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Parents of Toddler Who Died in Fall: We Blame Cruise Line

Chloe Wiegand's family speaks out on 'unfathomable' loss
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 22, 2019 1:05 PM CDT
This 2006 file photo shows the Freedom of the Seas cruise ship docked in Bayonne, NJ.   (AP Photo/Mike Derer, File)

(Newser) – The parents who lost their 18-month-old daughter in a tragic accident aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship are speaking out publicly for the first time since their "unfathomable" loss. Chloe Wiegand was with her grandfather in a children's play area on the 11th story of the ship, which was docked in Puerto Rico, when he placed her on a railing so she could look out what he thought was a glass window. But, though the windows around it were indeed closed, that one was open. "He was extremely hysterical" when they found him at the scene, Kimberly Wiegand recalled in an emotional interview with NBC News. "The thing that he has repeatedly told us is, 'I believed that there was glass,'" she says. When they were first told their daughter had died, she adds, the couple didn't know what had happened. "I just saw Sam standing next to the wall of windows by the kids' splash pad, screaming and banging on it."

"I ran over there, and I looked over. And it wasn't water down there, it was concrete," she continues. She says the couple's young son has told her, "Mom, I wish I would have been standing there because I would have jumped and I would have saved her. ... To know that he's living with that is just so hard." She says Royal Caribbean must be held responsible in court for what happened, and says the family asked why a window would be open in a children's area so high up on the ship with no screen or any sort of protection. The cruise line, she says, explained that it was for ventilation. "Well, to that I would say, get a fan. Come up with some other mechanism to make your guests comfortable, rather than creating a tremendous safety hazard that cost our child her life," she says. The Puerto Rico Department of Justice is still investigating. (Teen dies in fall from cruise ship.)

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