Family of Toddler Who Died After Falling from Cruise Ship Allege 'Negligence' Led to Accident
"I do think there is going to be blame and significant blame on the cruise line, and I will do everything I can to hold them accountable," the family's attorney said
The family of 1-year-old Chloe Wiegand is speaking out about her recent death while aboard Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas.
While in the children’s play area of the cruise ship, their toddler tragically died after she fell more than 10 stories onto a concrete dock in Puerto Rico. Initial reports said that Chloe fell out of her grandfather’s arms, but the family is disputing those accounts, the Today Show reported.
Her family’s attorney, Michael Winkleman, explained to the outlet that Chloe’s grandfather had put her on the ledge of a window in the children’s area. Winkleman told Today that Chloe’s grandfather was unaware that it was open.
“Essentially her grandfather lifts her up and puts her on a railing and where he thinks that there is glass there because it’s clear, but it turns out there was no glass there,” Winkleman told Today. “She goes to bang on the glass like she would have at one of those hockey rinks, and the next thing you know, she’s gone.”
The attorney told the outlet that they believe Royal Caribbean is at fault in the accident.
“Why in the world would you leave a window open in an entire glass wall full of windows in a kid’s area?” he told Today. “I mean, why would you have that kind of a hidden danger without any warning, without any sign, without any notice?”
“I do think there is going to be blame and significant blame on the cruise line, and I will do everything I can to hold them accountable, for what appears to me to be negligence,” Winkleman added.
In a statement to PEOPLE on Tuesday, the cruise line said it is “deeply saddened” by the incident.
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“We are deeply saddened by yesterday’s tragic incident, and our hearts go out to the family. We’ve made our Care Team available to assist the family with any resources they need,” the Royal Carribean spokesperson told PEOPLE. “Out of respect for their privacy, we do not plan to comment further on the incident.”
Also on Tuesday, the spokesperson told NBC News that the cruise line was cooperating with local authorities in the investigation, but did not comment on Winkleman’s statements. The ship has since left for a week-long trip in the Caribbean while Chloe’s family remains in Puerto Rico for the ongoing investigation.
Mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg expressed his condolences to the family on Twitter as Chloe’s father is a police officer with the South Bend Police Department in Indiana.
“We are saddened by the terrible accident that took the life of Officer Wiegand’s young daughter, and the city is holding this family in our hearts,” he wrote.