LOS ANGELES - The parents of a toddler who fell to her death from an open window on a cruise ship in Puerto Rico plan to sue the cruise company over its safety.
Kimberly Wiegand, the mother of 18-month-old Chloe Wiegand, spoke on NBC’s “Today” show for the first time since her daughter’s death. She and her husband Alan, an officer from South Bend, Indiana, believe the company, Royal Caribbean, did not have a “safer situation on the 11th floor of that cruise ship.”
Chloe died on July 7 after she fell out of an open window on the 11th floor of the Freedom of the Seas, which was docked in Puerto Rico after the family had gone on a trip through the Caribbean. She was with her parents, two siblings and both sets of grandparents.
Michael Winkleman, the family’s attorney, challenged a Puerto Rico police report that stated Chloe’s grandfather dropped her out of a window when the ship was docked.
Winkleman said Chloe asked her grandfather to lift her up so she could bang on the glass of the window in a children’s play area. He placed her on a railing, but the window had been left open and she fell through it.
Kimberly recalled the moment she learned of her daughter’s death during the interview.
“I didn’t know that she went out a window. And I just kept saying, ‘Take me to my baby. Where’s my baby?’ I didn’t even notice a window. I ran over there, and I looked over, and it wasn’t water down there, it was concrete. To lose our baby this way is just unfathomable,” she said.
She added that Chloe’s grandfather often let her bang on the glass when they attended hockey games, so he believed the railing he put her on had glass in front of it. She said he’s incredibly distraught over the situation and cannot look at anyone without crying.
“There are a million things that could’ve been done to make that safer,” Kimberly said. “I know my mom was asking people, ‘Why on earth is there a window open on the 11th floor without a screen or anything?’”
Kimberly said that Royal Caribbean told her family the window was open for ventilation.
Officials with the cruise company are cooperating with the investigation. They also provided a statement regarding the incident.
"We are deeply saddened by this incident, and our hearts go out to the family. We have assisted the authorities in San Juan with their inquiries, and they are the appropriate people to address further questions," the statement said.
The family continues to figure out how to cope with the loss and said Chloe will always be a part of them.
“We’ll never forget her,” Alan told Today. “She’s part of our soul that’s not there anymore.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.