Indiana toddler cruise ship death: Grandfather put the baby on railing as he thought there was glass behind it
The family of a toddler who died after falling from the 11th deck of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship has offered an explanation to the incident. It has now been revealed that the grandfather placed the toddler on a railing that he believed was behind glass.
We had previously reported that 18-month-old Chloe Rae Margaret was on holiday with her parents and grandparents on the Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas ship when the tragedy occurred.
The ship was docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on July 7 when the grandfather allegedly lost his grip on the toddler while they were playing on the 11th deck and the little girl fell close to 150 feet directly onto the concrete fellow.
While it initially seemed as though the tragic death was one born out of carelessness, the family's lawyer Michael Winkleman told NBC News that it was a case of disastrous luck.
Winkleman said the family was in a children's play area that was enclosed with clear glass paneling and that Chloe's grandfather placed her on a railing that he believed was behind glass so they could look outside.
He said it was their belief that the toddler fell while she was trying to bang on the glass the same way she does while she's at the ice rink watching her brother's games, only this time, there was no such glass there.
"Essentially, her grandfather lifts her up and puts her on a railing and where he thinks that there is glass there because it's clear, but it turns out there was no glass there," Winkleman said. "She goes to bang on the glass like she would have at one of those hockey rinks, and the next thing you know, she's gone."
He said that the toddler's parents, Alan and Kimberly Wiegand, as well as the rest of the family, are now seeking answers as to why the area had an open window in a wall of glass paneling, that too in the children's area.
Royal Caribbean International said in a statement that it was 'deeply saddened' about the accident and that they had made a Care Team available to assist the family with 'any resources they need.'
The departure of the ship, which had docked in San Juan following a seven-day Southern Caribbean cruise of Antigua, St Lucia, and Barbados, was also delayed.
Puerto Rico's secretary for public affairs Anthony O. Maceira Zayas said their Department of Public Safety was working on the case 'with the seriousness and sensitivity it requires.'
Chloe's body is currently with the San Juan authorities and her parents are hoping to take her back home to South Bend, Indiana, in the coming days to give her a proper burial.