SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (FOX 13) - An Indiana family is defending the action of a relative as they grieve for their 18-month-old daughter after she fell from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship over the weekend.
Chloe Wiegand was on the Freedom of the Seas Sunday when her grandfather put her up on a wooden railing in the kids play area in a section that was all glass, or so he thought.
”He puts her up on there thinking she’s going to bang on the glass, and it’s going to be great. And she goes to bang on the glass, and the next thing he knows she’s gone,” said Michael Winkleman, the attorney the Wiegand family hired following the tragic accident.
Winkleman said one of the window panels was open, and she fell more than 10 stories to her death.
“He literally thought there was glass there. And he thought that she was going to bang on the glass like she was at a hockey game like she loved to do with her brother,” he said.
Chloe’s family disputes reports that her grandfather accidentally dropped her, instead blaming Royal Caribbean, the attorney says, for having windows passengers can open in a children’s area.
“Generally, windows are cruise ships are not a problem. But when you put them in a kids area where passengers can open them where they’re in a wall of windows creates a hidden danger unless you warn about it,” said Winkleman. “It was reasonable for Sam, the grandfather, to think that this was all glass because from his prospective it was all glass.”
But questions are being raised about the grandfather’s negligence.
The ship was docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico, when the accident happened, so authorities there are looking into possible charges against him.
Royal Caribbean International said the company is "deeply saddened" by the accident and expresses sympathies for the family.
The family’s attorney said the Freedom of the Seas ship was built in 2006, and newer ships aren’t built in a way to allow passengers to open windows.
The family is still in San Juan waiting for Chloe’s body to be released as the investigation continues.