Grandfather Who Dropped Toddler From Cruise Ship Deck May Face Charges

By Andres Manuel Rodriguez Public Domain https

The attorney for an American family whose 1-year-old daughter died Sunday after falling from Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas cruise ship said the child's grandfather did not drop her as was initially reported by officials in Puerto Rico, where the ship was docked.

"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", Michael Winkleman, a Miami-based attorney hired by Chloe's family, told the "Today" show.

Winkleman added that Chloe loved going to her brother's hockey games back home in IN and would enjoy banging on the glass during the game.

Winkleman questioned why Royal Caribbean didn't put a warning or indicator on the windows letting passengers know that they could be opened.

Owen Torres, corporate communications manager for Royal Caribbean, told CBS News that the cruise operator was "deeply saddened by [the] tragic incident, and our hearts go out to the family". When Chloe threw herself forward, there was no glass, and physics yanked her from her grandfather's grasp. I mean, we've all had that experience where someone walks into a glass-sliding door thinking it's not there. "I do think that there is going to be blame and significant blame on the cruise line", Winkleman told NBC News on Tuesday. Chloe is the child of South Bend Police Officer Alan Wiegand, according to the IN police department, and Kimberly Wiegand.

The Wiegand family remains in Puerto Rico due to the active investigation.

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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. He said that the toddler loved glass and windows, seeing through to the other side, and her grandfather had placed her on a ledge by a glass wall but had no idea one window within the wall was open. He puts her up there thinking she's going to bang on the glass and it's going to be great.

Winkleman said there is surveillance video of the incident, but he is waiting for Royal Caribbean to release it to him.

According to Winkleman, after the accident he kept muttering: "I thought it was like she was at a hockey game".

When asked how the family was doing, Winkleman replied: "Terrible". She goes to bang on the glass and the next thing you know, she's gone.

An 18-month-old girl reportedly plunged 46m to her death after slipping out of the arms of her granddad while they were aboard a cruise ship.

"It's a very grave scene, very regrettable and tragic", Elmer Roman of the department of public security of Puerto Rico told local media.

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