The parents of an Indiana toddler who fell to her death earlier this month while aboard a Caribbean cruise ship are determined to make sure the tragedy doesn’t happen to another family. Kimberly and Alan Wiegand made it clear that they blame the cruise line for their daughter’s death.
“This cannot happen to another family,” Kimberly Wiegand, mother of 1-year-old Chloe Wiegand, said during a Monday interview with NBC’s “Today” show. “We obviously blame them for not having a safer situation on the 11th floor of that cruise ship.”
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Chloe died after falling from the 11th floor of the Freedom of the Seas cruise ship and landing on the hard, concrete surface of the Pan American dock. She was playing with her grandfather, Salvatore Anello, in the children’s H2O Zone children’s water park when, according to Anello’s lawyer, she fell from an open window.
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 and sat her on the ledge, thinking the window behind her was protected by a glass wall.
“I think Royal Caribbean needs to answer these questions: Why would you ever in a kid’s play area put windows that passengers can open?” attorney Michael Winkleman asked.
“I mean, we’ve all had that experience where someone walks into a glass sliding door thinking it’s not there. This is the inverse of that. It was reasonable for Sam the grandfather to think that this was all glass because from his perspective it was all glass.”
While appearing on the “Today” show with Chloe’s parents, Winkleman reiterated that simple safety measures should have been in place to protect children.
“There’s no doubt this was an accident. Really the singular question is, were there safety measures that could have been in place and should have been in place? If they were in place, again, there would have been no tragedy.”
Kimberly Wiegand added that there was “a million things” the cruise line could have done to help prevent the tragedy. The distraught mother said the cruise line told her the window was open for ventilation.
“And their response to that was, ‘We need ventilation.’ 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.'”
According to IndyStar, Royal Caribbean spokesperson Melissa Charbonneau said they’re assisting San Juan police with the investigation.
“We are deeply saddened by this incident, and our hearts go out to the family,” Charbonneau told the outlet in an email.
The Puerto Rico Department of Justice stated it couldn’t comment on the incident, as authorities are still investigating, according to NBC News.
Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.
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[Feature Photo: Chloe Wiegand/Family Handout]