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The grieving parents of an 18-month-old are looking for answers after their daughter fell to her death through an open window in a children’s play area on a cruise ship docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Chloe Rae Margaret Wiegand was with her grandfather on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Sunday when she fell from the ship’s 11th story, the family’s lawyer, Michael Winkleman, told NBC News.
The family was in a children’s play area that was enclosed with clear glass paneling, Winkleman said. Chloe’s grandfather placed her on a railing that he believed was behind glass to look outside, according to Winkleman.
Her family believes she fell while she was trying to bang on the glass the same way she does when she’s at the ice rink watching her brother’s 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,” 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.”
Chloe WiegandCourtesy Wiegand Family
The toddler’s parents, Alan and Kimberly Wiegand, and family are devastated and want to know why the area had an open window in the wall of glass paneling, Winkleman said.
“Why in the world would you leave a window open in an entire glass wall full of windows in a kid’s area?” the attorney asked.
In a statement Monday, Royal Caribbean International said it was “deeply saddened” about the accident.
“We’ve made our Care Team available to assist the family with any resources they need,” the statement said. “Out of respect for their privacy, we do not plan to comment further on the incident.”
Puerto Rico’s Secretary for Public Affairs Anthony O. Maceira Zayas confirmed Chloe’s death in a statement Sunday and said the island was investigating.
“Puerto Rico’s Department of Public Safety is working on the case with the seriousness and sensitivity it requires,” he said. “We pray God fills with strength this family who is living today a real tragedy.”
Chloe’s parents hope to take her body, which is with San Juan authorities, home to South Bend, Indiana, in the coming days.
In a statement Monday, the South Bend Police Department, where Alan Wiegand is an officer, asked the community to pray for the Wiegand family as they grieve and to respect their privacy.
South Bend Mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg retweeted the police statement on Twitter on Monday evening and added, “We are saddened by the terrible accident that took the life of Officer Wiegand’s young daughter, and the city is holding this family in our hearts.”