Toddler’s Family Demands Answers From Royal Caribbean After Death: Lawyer
"The family is really at a loss for words. They are so deeply and utterly devastated by what happened," the family's lawyer said
The family of an 18-month-old toddler who fell to her death from the 11th story of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship wants answers as to why there was an open window in the glass paneling near the children's play area.
Chloe Wiegand was traveling with her parents, two siblings and two sets of grandparents aboard the Freedom of the Seas, which docked in Puerto Rico on Sunday after a weeklong trip through the Caribbean. The death occurred Sunday afternoon at the Panamerican dock in the capital of San Juan.
Chloe was playing on the ship's H2O Zone kids water park, accompanied by her maternal grandfather, Salvatore Anello, family attorney Michael Winkleman told NBC News. They often played together – at home in Indiana, at parks and at Chloe's brother's hockey games, Winkleman said.
A similarity between those days at hockey rinks and that day in the kid's area of the cruise is what led to the tragedy, according to the Winkleman.
Chloe loved cheering on her brother at his games – slamming on the hockey rink's glass panels.
Winkleman said Anello recounted through tears that Chloe wandered towards the glass wall and asked to be lifted up. Anello lifted Chloe and placed her on a railing that he believed was behind glass, not realizing there was a "hidden danger."
"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 said. "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."
Winkleman, a maritime lawyer at the Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman firm, said witnesses described hearing a "blood-curdling scream" after Chloe fell over.
He said Chloe's parents, Alan and Kimberly Wiegan, are devestated. The family, which is still in San Juan, wants the world to know "how loving and positive" Chloe was.
"The family is really at a loss for words. They are so deeply and utterly devastated by what happened," Winkleman said. "I think they are really trying to remain positive."
In a downtown Miami press conference on Tuesday, Winkleman said the incident was "preventable."
Winkleman said though he feels there are grounds for a lawsuit, he wants his firm to look at video of the incident first. The law firm and Royal Caribbean are discussing possibly releasing the video. If so, it is not clear if the video would be released to the public.
The family also wants answers on the open glass window, Winkleman said, and if no good answers are provided, then Royal Caribbean is "on the hook," he added.
"I'm just left wondering why in the world would you have an open window in a wall full of glass, literally right next to a kid's area?" Winkleman said.
Puerto Rico Ports Authority spokesman José Carmona told The Associated Press officials are investigating whether the window was already opened or if someone had opened it.
A Royal Caribbean Cruises spokeswoman said the ship departed Puerto Rico on Monday for St. Maarten on a new itinerary and declined further comment.
Chloe's body is expected to be released to the family on Tuesday, Winkleman said.