The family of a 1-year-old toddler who died after falling from the 11th floor of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship is asking why there was an open window in a play area of the vessel.
“Today” show reports that family attorney Michael Winkleman explained that toddler Chloe Wiegand’s grandfather, Salvatore Anello, is not to blame for the toddler’s untimely and tragic death. On Sunday, the little girl fell from the 11th floor of the Freedom of the Seas cruise ship while playing with Anello in the children’s H2O Zone children’s water park, the lawyer said.
Anello, who often accompanied Chloe to her brothers’ hockey games, where she enthusiastically banged on the hockey rink glass panel, apparently lifted the girl up at her request while they were in the play area. Previous reports indicated the pair were in the dining area on the 11th floor.
According to Winkleman, Anello picked Chloe up and sat her on a railing without realizing there was no glass in the large window behind her. Winkleman said the cruise line is responsible for the “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.”
The family of a toddler, who fell more than 10 stories to her death from a docked cruise ship, is disputing initial accounts from police that she slipped and fell from her grandfather’s arms, @gabegutierrez reports. pic.twitter.com/ZQYpKXN3t7
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) July 9, 2019
The little girl died Sunday after she landed on the hard surface of the Pan American dock. Her parents, Alan and Kimberly Wiegand, were so devastated they had to be medically sedated, according to El Vocero. The ship was docked in Puerto Rico at the time, after a week-long excursion.
“The family is really at a loss for words. They are so deeply and utterly devastated by what happened,” Winkleman told the show. “I think they are really trying to remain positive.”
Winkleman added that although the family hasn’t yet filed legal action against Royal Caribbean, it’s definitely a possibility if they aren’t provided “good answers” about the lack of glass in an a window in a children’s play area, and no signs put up to warn people.
“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 asked. “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. I will do everything I can to hold them accountable for what appears to me to be negligence.”
Family of toddler who fell from cruise ship speaks out about cause of death https://t.co/STMIhMC9bU
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) July 9, 2019
As CrimeOnline previously reported, although it’s been called a “tragic accident,” Puerto Rican officials indicated that they’re still in the process of gathering evidence, which will ultimately determine if Anello will face neglect charges.
Anello’s boss, Mike Hamann, spoke with CBS and explained the grandfather was “selfless” and loved. Hamann implied he couldn’t imagine Anello would ever purposely hurt his grandchild.
“People just love him here in the county,” Hamann said. “He’s a very selfless man, he’s got a servant’s heart, as we say. And just one of the most wonderful human beings that you could ever meet.”
Chloe was traveling with several other family members when the tragedy occurred, including her parents, both sets of grandparents, and her siblings.
Chloe’s father is an officer with the South Bend Police Department in Indiana.
Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.
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[Feature Photo: Chloe Wiegand/Facebook]