Family of 1-year-old who died in fall from cruise ship hires attorney

The family of a 1-year-old girl who fell to her death from the 11th story of a cruise ship docked in Puerto Rico has hired a lawyer to clarify the details of what happened.

Police initially said Chloe Wiegand slipped from her grandfather's hands and fell to her death on Sunday when the Royal Caribbean ship was docked in Puerto Rico, but the family's attorney, Michael Winkleman, said Tuesday that's not what happened.

Wiegand was on vacation with her parents, grandparents and older brother from Indiana, according to their attorney. Winkleman said she loved banging on the glass while watching her brother play hockey, and so her grandfather carried her to a wall described as a "wall of windows" in the children's play area on the 11th floor of the ship. 

"They're playing in the play zone, and there's this wall of all windows. It's all glass windows," said Winkleman. "The grandfather thought it was entirely glass. There's a wood railing right there. He puts her up on there thinking she's going to bang on the glass and it's gonna be great. She goes to bang on the glass and the next thing he knows, she's gone."

Puerto Rico Ports Authority spokesman José Carmona told the AP that the family was gathered in or near a dining hall on the 11th floor and that the grandfather sat the toddler on the edge of a window. He said officials are investigating whether the window was already opened or if someone had opened it.

Winkleman raised questions as to why there was an open window without warning signs.

He also is asking to board the vessel to review surveillance video that allegedly captured the tragic moment she fell.

Authorities said the family was traveling 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.

Police Sgt. Nelson Sotelo told The Associated Press that the family of the child will remain in the U.S. territory until the investigation is complete. He said officers have not been able to interview any relatives yet.

"They're in shock," he said.

Sotelo said the toddler's maternal grandfather, Salvatore Anello of Valparaiso, Indiana, is under investigation. He said the rest of the family is from Granger, Indiana.

The South Bend Police Department said in a statement that the girl was the daughter of Officer Alan Wiegand and asked "the community to pray for the entire Wiegand family as they grieve and to respect their privacy."

The police chief of South Bend, Indiana, Scott Ruszkowski, disputed the statement issued by Puerto Rico police that the girl was being held out of a window in an interview with WSBT television.

Royal Caribbean Cruises called it a tragic incident and said it was helping the family. A spokeswoman said the ship departed Puerto Rico on Monday for St. Maarten on a new itinerary and declined further comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.