Tod­dler dies in 11-floor fall from cruise ship

Lodi News-Sentinel - - NATION/WORLD - By Johnny Diaz

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — As an In­di­ana fam­ily mourns a tod­dler who fell to her death while aboard a Royal Car­ib­bean cruise ship, they also are seek­ing an­swers to how this could have hap­pened.

The in­ci­dent took place Sunday on the Free­dom of the Seas while it was docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The girl, who was iden­ti­fied as Chloe Wie­gand, was with her grand­fa­ther when she fell from the 11th deck of the ship, ac­cord­ing to au­thor­i­ties.

The fam­ily now has re­tained mar­itime at­tor­ney Michael Win­kle­man, of the Mi­ami law firm Lip­con, Mar­gulies, Alsina & Win­kle­man.

Speak­ing on be­half of the fam­ily Tuesday, he dis­putes ini­tial po­lice state­ments that the girl had ac­ci­den­tally slipped from the arms of the grand­fa­ther, Sal­va­tore Anello, when she fell from a win­dow on the deck.

Puerto Rico Ports Author­ity spokesman Jose Car­mona had said that the fam­ily was gath­ered in or near a din­ing hall on the 11th floor and the grand­fa­ther sat the tod­dler on the edge of a win­dow, The As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported. Of­fi­cials were in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether the win­dow was al­ready opened or if some­one had opened it.

At a news con­fer­ence, Win­kle­man said the grand­fa­ther and girl were in the ship’s wa­ter park area called the H2O Zone where he placed the girl onto a wood rail­ing by a wall of win­dows. “The grand­fa­ther didn’t drop the child,” Win­kle­man said in a state­ment. “The child fell due to an open glass pane that should have been closed se­curely.”

He said the girl had “wanted to bang on the glass like she al­ways did at her older brother’s hockey games. Her grand­fa­ther thought there was glass just like ev­ery­where else, but there was not, and she was gone in an in­stant.”

Win­kle­man added: “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?”

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