Family of Toddler Who Died from Fall Off Cruise Ship Speaks Out: 'We Have to Go on for Her'
The parents of Chloe Wiegand are speaking out in their first interview since the 18-month-old fell to her death from a docked cruise ship earlier this month.
Opening up on the Today show Monday in an emotional conversation with Savannah Guthrie, Alan and Kimberly Wiegand recalled the traumatic scene following the accident, when Chloe’s grandfather Sam placed her on a railing near a window that he believed to be a closed part of a glass wall.
“He was extremely hysterical. The thing that he has repeatedly told us is, ‘I believed that there was glass,’ ” she told Guthrie, 47. “He will cry over and over and over. At no point ever — ever — has Sam ever put our kids in danger.”
Alan said that Sam is “very distraught,” to the point where you can “barely look at him without him crying.”
“[Chloe] was his best friend,” he added, visibly emotional.
While in the children’s play area of the Royal Caribbean cruise ship, Chloe tragically died after she fell more than 10 stories onto a concrete dock in Puerto Rico. Chloe was used to being next to glass, having a habit of banging on the panels at the hockey rink at home while attending her brother’s games and practices.
“When they told me Chloe had died, I didn’t know that she went out a window,” Kimberly told Guthrie through tears. “I just saw Sam standing next to the wall of windows by the kids’ splash pad, screaming and banging on it.”
“There was someone from Royal Caribbean who kept trying to stop me,” she continued. “And I just kept saying, ‘Take me to my baby. Where’s my baby? Take me to my baby.’ I didn’t even notice a window. I ran over there, and I looked over … and it wasn’t water down there, it was concrete.”
“To lose our baby this way is just unfathomable,” Kimberly said, adding later in the interview, “This one mother just came and held me and embraced me and I’ll never forget it. She just said, ‘God, watch over this family.’ I just want to thank her. I don’t know where she is or who she is.”
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In a previous statement to PEOPLE, a spokesperson for Royal Caribbean said they are “deeply saddened” by the incident, adding, “We’ve made our Care Team available to assist the family with any resources they need. Out of respect for their privacy, we do not plan to comment further on the incident.”
A spokesperson also previously told NBC News that the cruise line was cooperating with local authorities in the investigation.
Kimberly told Guthrie on Monday that she thinks Royal Caribbean “[has] to be” responsible for the incident, adding, “This cannot happen to another family.”
“We obviously blame them,” she said. “There are a million things that could’ve been done to make that safer. I know my mom was asking people, ‘Why on Earth is there a window open on the 11th floor without a screen or anything?’ ”
“And their response to that was, ‘We need ventilation,’ ” Kimberly claimed. “Well, to that I would say, ‘Get a fan. Come up with some other mechanism to make your guests comfortable, rather than creating a tremendous safety hazard that cost our child her life.’ ”
Kimberly “never [wants] another mother to have to experience this or to see what I had to see” in regard to the accident (“to scream how I had to scream”), or in seeing her son wish he had been there to save his sister.
But she and her husband are remembering their baby girl’s “light” and her ability to make anyone crack a smile.
As Alan explained to Guthrie of Chloe, “We’ll never forget her. She’s part of our soul that’s not there anymore.”
“It’s really easy to shut out the world and to give up, but we will not do that because that’s not who Chloe was,” Kimberly adds. “We have to go on for her. We can’t give up.”