The parents of a toddler who fell from an open cruise ship window are publicly faulting the cruise line for their daughter’s death.
“We obviously blame them,” Kimberly Wiegand told NBC News’s “Today” show in an interview that aired Monday. “There are a million things that could have been done to make that safer.”
Her daughter, 18-month-old Chloe Wiegand, died July 7 after falling from the 11th deck of Royal Caribbean International’s Freedom of the Seas onto the concrete below when the ship was docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The family from Granger, Indiana, was on a Caribbean cruise with both sets of grandparents.
The family’s attorney said Chloe’s grandfather, identified by authorities as Salvatore Anello, placed the toddler on a railing next to what he thought was a glass window in a children’s water play area. But the window had been opened, and Chloe tumbled out of it.
“He was extremely hysterical,” Kimberly Wiegand said, who referred to Anello as Sam. “The thing that he has repeatedly told us is, ‘I believed that there was glass.’ He will cry over and over. At no point ever, ever, has Sam ever put our kids in danger.”
During the six-minute segment, Kimberly Wiegand and her husband, Alan Wiegand, described the anguish of discovering how their child had died – circumstances she described as “unfathomable” – and questioned why there was an open window in a children’s play area so high off the ground.
According to Kimberly Wiegand, workers on the ship said the window was open because the area needed ventilation.
“To that I say, get a fan, come up with some other mechanisms to make your guests comfortable rather than creating a tremendous safety hazard that cost our child her life,” she said.
The family’s attorney, Michael Winkleman, told “Today” that he doesn’t doubt the death was accidental.
“But really, the singular question is, were there safety measures that could have been in place and should have been in place?” he said. “If they were in place, again, there would have been no tragedy.”
Kimberly Wiegand said she believes the cruise company needs to be held responsible in court.
“This cannot happen to another family,” she said.
A spokesman for Royal Caribbean Cruises, the Miami-based parent company that owns Royal Caribbean International, released the same statement to The Washington Post and NBC News.
“We are deeply saddened by this incident, and our hearts go out to the family,” spokesman Owen Torres said in an email. “We have assisted the authorities in San Juan with their inquiries, and they are the appropriate people to address further questions.”
According to the “Today” show, Puerto Rican officials said the investigation was in advanced stages and they could not release more information.
This month, Puerto Rico’s public security secretary, Elmer Román, told the Associated Press that investigators were exploring “multiple angles” in the case, including the possibility of negligence on the part of the cruise company.
Related: Woman, 83, died months after being tied up with bathrobe ‘like criminal’ by crew and injected on £8,500 cruise
AN OAP died just months after cruise ship staff tied her up with a bathrobe and injected her with a powerful sedative – before charging her £1,000 for the pleasure.
Marguerite Hayward, 83, fell ill on a £8,500 cruise with husband Fed in 2017.
She woke in the early hours of April 25 in a “delirium” linked to dementia.
Fred called reception in a panic, before seven members of staff rushed to help.
They bound her feet with bathrobe cords before administering an anti-psychotic drug under the supervision of the ship doctor.
After recovering from the ordeal, Marguerite was told to leave the six-star cruise liner in Sorrenton, Italy.
OAP WAS TIED UP
The couple were later sent a £1,000 bill for the sedative.
After a week in an Italian ward she was flown back to Britain in an air ambulance and admitted to the West Suffolk Hospital.
She died three months later at Glastonbury Court care home.
An inquest ruled that her treatment on the cruise contributed to her death.
Senior Coroner Nigel Parsley said: “On a balance of probability basis, I find that the nature of the treatment Marguerite received initially on board the Severn Sea’s Explorer contributed to her acute episode of delirium at that time.
“On a balance of probability basis, I find that the nature of the treatment Marguerite received once ashore in Italy also contributed to her ongoing delirium both whilst in Italy itself and upon her return to the UK.
“It is my belief that the sequence of events which started in the early hours of the morning of the 25th April 2017 had a cumulative and contributing effect to Marguerites death.
“The delirium, sacral sores and general loss of physical reserves, contributed to her immobility which predisposed her to be at greater risk of succumbing to naturally occurring disease.”