Family of toddler who fell 150ft to her death from Royal Caribbean ship share photo of the open window she fell through after being propped up against it by her grandfather as they blame cruise liner for her death
- Chloe Wiegand, 18 months, died in San Juan, Puerto Rico after falling from the Royal Caribbean ship
- The toddler plummeted 150ft out of a window her family says had been left open on the 11th floor
- Salvatore ‘Sam’ Anello, her grandfather, had lifted her up to it to let her bang on the glass
- He did not see that it was open and was sickened when Chloe went straight through the open space
- After the accident, Chloe’s cop father took photos of the window she plummeted from
- They show how the windows can be opened with a handle and slide from right to left
- They are blaming Royal Caribbean having such windows in a children’s play area so high up
The family of an Indiana toddler who fell 150ft to her death from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship on Sunday have blamed the liner for her death, saying she died by falling through a window which had been left open in the kids’ play area, and have shared photos of it to prove how difficult it is to spot.
Chloe Wiegand died after falling from the Freedom of the Seas ship onto a concrete dock in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Sunday afternoon.
Local officials initially said she had been in her grandfather Salvatore ‘Sam’ Anello’s arms and that he lost his grip on her.
They were on the 11th floor of the ship where there is a kids’ pool known as the ‘H2O zone’. It is an outdoor play area but is encased by two walls of windows on either side.
On Tuesday, a lawyer hired by the family revealed that Anello had put Chloe up on a wooden railing to let her bang on the glass, as she loved to do at her older brothers’ ice hockey games in Indiana, not realizing that the window was in fact open.
When she leaned forward to pound her hands on it, she went straight through the open space and plummeted to the ground below, letting out a ‘blood curdling’ scream as she fell, according to witnesses.
The lawyer said that Anello simply did not see that the window had been slid open when he propped Chloe up against it and that he ‘absolutely had not’ been drinking.
‘We’ve all had that experience where someone walks into a glass door thinking it’s not there. This is the inverse of that,’ Michael Winkleman, the lawyer, said on Tuesday.
In photos shared with DailyMail.com, the 11th floor window can be seen next to others that are closed. They were taken by Chloe’s cop father after she had fallen.
Describing what happened at a press conference in Miami, Winkleman said Chloe and her grandfather were playing in the area when he saw the windows and decided to take her over to them.
‘The grandfather is with Chloe, they’re playing and there’s this wall of all windows, it’s all glass windows.
‘Chloe used to love to bang on the glass at her brother’s ice hockey games, so her grandfather takes her over to the windows, he thinks it’s all glass.
‘There’s a wood railing along there, he puts her on that thinking she’s going to bang on the glass and it’s going to be great, and the next thing he knows, she’s gone,’ he said.
He did not say why Anello thought it was open but said: ‘He literally thought it was all glass. Clearly, he was wrong.’
Asked if the grandfather had been drinking, he added: ‘There was absolutely no alcohol involved, Sam is not a drinker.’
Winkleman called it a ‘preventable tragedy’ and said the window should never have been open so high up.
‘What was preventable here was really, why would you ever put windows that passengers could open.
‘It was reasonable for him to think this was all glass.
‘From his perspective it was all glass,’ he added.
A spokesman for the law firm has since told DailyMail.com that while there was a glass pane there, it had been left open.
The family is looking into holding the cruise ship company accountable.
‘Why would you have that kind of danger without any sign without any warning without any notice?’ Winkleman added.
‘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,’ he added.
Local officials told El Vocero, a Puerto Rican newspaper, that Anello and Chloe’s parents had to be sedated afterwards because they were so distraught.
According to Winkleman, after the accident he kept muttering: ‘I thought it was like she was at a hockey game.’
The lawyer said the family, who are still in Puerto Rico, want to ‘shine a light’ on the kind of child Chloe was.
‘She was such a happy and loving child,’ he said.
In a statement, Royal Caribbean said on Monday that it was ‘deeply saddened’ by the accident.
‘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,’ it said.
It has not responded to the lawyer’s allegations of negligence.
Winkleman said one of his associates was in contact with the company.
He wants it to release surveillance footage of the incident to the family.
Chloe was with her parents, older brother and grandparents on the week-long Caribbean cruise.
Her father is a cop from South Bend, Indiana. It was their first night on the ship.
The family went to speak to prosecutors on Monday in Puerto Rico and are now eager to get home, the lawyer added.
‘They want to get home as quickly as possible. Chloe’s body was going to be released today, they were working with authorities. They want to leave immediately.’
He added that Royal Caribbean was ‘helping’ the family with hotels and flights until they can return home.
Prosecutors have also asked for security footage from the ship and are speaking to witnesses.
They said on Monday that Anello had been playing a ‘game’ with his granddaughter when she slipped out of his arms.