The family of a one year old girl who fell from the 11th deck of a cruise ship is speaking out.  18 month old Chloe Wiegand tragically died when she fell from Royal Caribbean’s ‘Freedom of the Seas' and hit a concrete dock below. 

Initial reports made by police claimed the Grandfather was holding Chloe when she slipped out of his arms but the family is sharing a different story. 

Michael Winkleman, a Miami-based attorney for Chloe’s family, said her grandfather put the girl on a ledge near a window in a children’s area, but was unaware that the window was open.

Family Has different account of toddler dropped
The toddler fell from the 11th floor of the Royal Caribbean cruise ship (Credit: The Sun UK)
Toddler Falls From Cruise Ship
Family Attourney said that Chloe enjoyed being by windows to see what was happening on the other side (Credit: Today)

According to Winkleman, Chloe enjoyed banging on the glass like she did at hockey games. 

"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. 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."

Michael Winkleman - Family Attorney

Chloe's parents Alan and Kimberly Wiegand are absolutely devestated and demanding answers to why a window would be open in a kids play area that is covered in glass paneling. 

Winkleman said in a statement to Today that the cruise line is to blame and that he will do everything he can to hold them accountable. 

"I do think there is going to be blame and significant blame on the cruise line, and I will do everything I can to hold them accountable, for what appears to me to be negligence."

Michael Winkleman - Family Attorney
Chloe Wiegand died after falling 150 feet (Credit: Today)
Alleged window
The alleged window Chloe fell from (Credit: The Sun UK)

Royal Caribbean said it was “deeply saddened” by the accident. 

"We’ve made our Care Team available to assist the family with any resources they need. Out of respect for their privacy, we do not plan to comment further on the incident."

Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Melissa Charbonneau said in an email to IndyStar

Chloe's father Alan Wiegand was a police officer for the South Bend, Indiana police department who also issued a statement of support asking the community pray for the Wiegand family.  

The police are currently investigating the accident that happened on Sunday and will be interviewing the family but believe it was a tragic accident. 

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) says overboard accidents have decreased by 35% over the last decade even though cruise ship capicity has increased 55%. An average of 24 people fall from cruise ships annually. 

“Safety regulations, including uniform minimum railing and balcony heights, and structural barriers are also in place to prevent passengers who are acting responsibly from simply falling off a cruise ship,” said  Sarah Kennedy a spokesperson for the CLIA. 

How to protect yourself from going overboard on a cruise (1)

How to protect youreself and your family from going overboard on a cruise ship

  • Beware of the weather.  Ships may close decks when threatening weather impacts the cruise. Follow posted signs to avoid strong winds and slippery surfaces. Even when decks are open be sure to be careful when walking close to the sides. 
  • Watch for open windows and don't sit on or lean over the railings. 
  • Alcohol has been a factor in many overboard deaths, Stay away from railings or decks if you have over indulged. 
  • Take arguments away from railing and decks. Accidents can happen when tempers flare. 
  • Avoid risky selfies. Be sure of your surroundings before trying to get that perfect photo. 
  • Watch children closely and don't lift them above railings or windows to get a better view. Sudden sways of the ship due to swells can make you lose your footing and grip. 

A version of this story orignally appeard on Today

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