Indiana toddler fell to death from open window on cruise ship, attorney says

An Indiana toddler who plunged to her death from the 11th story of a cruise ship docked in Puerto Rico fell from a window that had been left open, an attorney for the girl’s family said Tuesday.

Puerto Rican authorities and reports said 18-month-old Chloe Wiegand had slipped from her grandfather's hands Sunday as he was holding her out of an 11th-floor window.

FILE: The Freedom of the Seas cruise ship docked in Bayonne, N.J. 

FILE: The Freedom of the Seas cruise ship docked in Bayonne, N.J.  (AP)

But Michael Winkleman, a Miami attorney who's representing the girl's family, said Tuesday that "the story is not as it had originally been portrayed in the media."

"The grandfather didn't drop the child, the child fell due to an open glass pane that should have been closed securely," he said in a statement.

Winkleman said Wiegand had been playing with her grandfather in a child’s play area on the ship as it when she asked him to lift her to a wall of windows lining the play area.

"Her grandfather thought there was glass just like everywhere else, but there was not, and she was gone in an instant," Winkleman said.


Police in Puerto Rico declined to comment on Winkleman's account of the events leading up to the child's fatal fall.

Winkleman's office said the family remained in Puerto Rico on Tuesday, waiting for their child's body to be released, and they hope to return home to Indiana once that happens.

"The family needs answers as to why there would be an open window in a wall full of fixed windows in a kids' play area? Why would you have the danger without any warning, sign, or notice?" he asked.

Puerto Rico Ports Authority spokesman José Carmona told The Associated Press on Monday that officials are investigating whether the window was already opened or if someone had opened it.


Royal Caribbean Cruises called the girl's death a tragic incident in a statement Monday and said it was helping the family.

The cruise line had not responded to messages left Tuesday seeking comment on Winkleman's statements about the circumstances of the child's death.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.