US family blames cruise company for toddler’s death

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The family of a toddler who died after falling 11 storeys from an open window on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship has blamed the company for the accident.

Chloe Wiegand, 1, fell after her grandfather put her on the railing of a children’s play area, believing there was glass there, the family claims.

Royal Caribbean said it was “deeply saddened” but would not comment further to respect the family’s privacy.

The family’s lawyer said there should have been a warning sign on the window.

Chloe died from the fall on Sunday, while the ship was docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Attorney Michael Winkleman, of the Miami-based law firm Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, told the BBC in a statement that Chloe’s grandfather did not drop her, but she fell from an open pane that should have been closed securely.

Chloe and her grandfather were playing in a water zone for children on the ship, Mr Winkleman said.

“Chloe wanted to bang on the glass” as she did during her brother’s hockey games when she fell out of the window.

He said “her grandfather thought there was glass just like everywhere else, but there was not, and she was gone in an instant”.

“The family needs answers as to why there would be an open window in a wall full of fixed windows in a kids’ play area? Why would you have the danger without any warning, sign, or notice?”

Mr Winkleman has told US media that he felt there was “significant blame on the cruise line” as he thought it appeared to be a case of negligence.

The Wiegand family has remained in Puerto Rico as Chloe’s grandfather, Salvatore Anello, is under investigation.

During a news conference on Tuesday, Mr Winkleman said there are many measures to prevent kids from falling out of windows, like screens, and questioned why there was ever an open window in an area designed for children to play in.

Mr Winkleman told reporters the family felt “terrible”, and that Mr Anello was “crying hysterically” when they spoke.

Royal Caribbean’s statement to US media noted that the company has made a “Care Team available to assist the family with any resources they need”. The company is co-operating with local authorities in the investigation.

Chloe’s parents are Kimberly and Alan Wiegand. Mr Wiegand is a South Bend, Indiana, police officer.

Pete Buttigieg, South Bend’s mayor and a 2020 presidential hopeful, tweeted his condolences on Tuesday.

Puerto Rican police earlier told The Associated Press that Chloe had slipped from her grandfather’s arms while she was held outside of the window, but this report has been disputed by the family and Indiana police.

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