Police attend to scene on the cruise ship after the incident on Sunday 7 July 2019. Toddler Chloe Wiegand fell to her death from a window on Royal Caribbean cruise ship Freedom of the Seas. Picture: Attorney Michael Winkleman
Police attend to scene on the cruise ship after the incident on Sunday 7 July 2019. Toddler Chloe Wiegand fell to her death from a window on Royal Caribbean cruise ship Freedom of the Seas. Picture: Attorney Michael Winkleman

Picture explains baby’s cruise death

IN among a wall of glass windows, a single pane sits ajar.

Surrounded by yellow crime tape and police in navy uniform, the scene of where baby Chloe Wiegand plunged 45m to her death has been released, showing just how hidden the open window is to the naked eye.

A single railing runs the length of the "wall of windows" on-board the cruise ship, however the open pane that Chloe fell out of appears hidden.

Police attend the scene on the cruise ship where toddler Chloe Wiegand fell to her death. Picture: Michael Winkleman
Police attend the scene on the cruise ship where toddler Chloe Wiegand fell to her death. Picture: Michael Winkleman

On Sunday, 18-month-old Chloe plummeted 11 floors from the "Freedom of the Seas" cruise liner, reportedly slamming into concrete below while the vessel was docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

It was initially claimed the toddler slipped through the hands of her grandfather, Salvatore Anello, who had lifted her out the window as he played with her.

But the family's lawyer, Michael Winkleman, has hit back at the accusation and instead pinned the blame for the tragedy on the Royal Caribbean cruise line.

Mr Winkleman, a maritime lawyer representing the Wiegand family, said the grandfather didn't dangle and drop her and the blame should be on Royal Caribbean for not having the window closed securely.

This is not "like the Michael Jackson story, where he was dangling the child out the window", he said.

"There's a whole wall of windows (on the ship)," Mr Winkleman said.

"The grandfather thought that this window was closed. It turns out, we've come to learn, that … passengers can open these windows."

The open window.
The open window.

Mr Winkleman said while the other windows were closed, one was open and created a "hidden hole" that Chloe fell through.

"You have a wall of windows with one hidden hole," he said.

"Unknowingly, the grandfather places Chloe on the wood railing before the wall of windows believing Chloe will bang on the glass just like she does at her brother's hockey games, and the next thing he knows, she's gone.

"Why in the world would you leave a window open in an entire glass wall full of windows in a kid's area?

Chloe fell through a ‘hidden hole’. Picture: Michael Winkleman
Chloe fell through a ‘hidden hole’. Picture: Michael Winkleman

Mr Winkleman questioned the cruise line and asked why there was an open window in a play area designed for children.

"How about a warning, how about a sign, how about something?," he said in a statement to KTVQ.

"When you put it in a kids' play area, you gotta do something to let people know that these can be opened so things like this don't happen."

Chloe with her grandfather Salvatore Anello. Picture: Michael Winkleman
Chloe with her grandfather Salvatore Anello. Picture: Michael Winkleman

Mr Anello is under investigation over the tragic incident. His boss told WSBT that Mr Anello was a model employee.

"People just love him here in the county," Mike Hamann said.

"He's a very selfless man, he's got a servant's heart, as we say. And just one of the most wonderful human beings that you could ever meet."

In a statement sent to news.com.au, a Royal Caribbean spokesperson said they were "deeply saddened" by the "tragic incident".

"Our hearts go out to the family," the statement read.

"We've made our Care Team available to assist the family with any resources they need.

"We are assisting local authorities in San Juan, Puerto Rico as they make inquiries after an incident aboard Freedom of the Seas on Sunday.

"Out of respect for their privacy, we do not plan to comment further on the incident."

Following the fatal fall, Mr Anello and several other family members were so hysterical after the child's tragic death plunge they had to be sedated by medics, according to El Vocero.

Witnesses told how they heard the family, from Indiana, US, wailing in agony after Chloe fell to her death.

"We heard the screams of the families because we were close," one passenger told Telemundo PR.

"A cry of pain of that nature does not compare with any other cry."

It is not clear whether Mr Anello or anyone else will be prosecuted over Chloe's death, with police quizzing witnesses and reviewing CCTV before deciding whether to file negligence charges.

Devastated mother Kimberley Schultz Wiegand posted pictures of herself with Chloe on Facebook in the wake of the tragedy. Picture: Michael Winkleman
Devastated mother Kimberley Schultz Wiegand posted pictures of herself with Chloe on Facebook in the wake of the tragedy. Picture: Michael Winkleman

Henry Escalera Rivera, Commissioner of the Police Bureau, told Prima Hora: "This is a process that is under investigation.

"We must wait to interview relatives and evaluate other evidence to determine if the filing of charges is appropriate."

Devastated mum Kimberley Schultz Wiegand posted pictures of herself with her little girl on Facebook in the wake of the tragedy.

Mr Anello is being investigated over the tragic incident. Picture: Michael Winkleman
Mr Anello is being investigated over the tragic incident. Picture: Michael Winkleman

Friends and family paid tribute, leaving comments like: "Sweet angel. Praying for you and your family Kim."

Another wrote: "You are loved. Praying for you and your family. I'm so sorry."

The child's father has been identified as police officer Alan Wiegand by the South Bend Police Department in Indiana.

News.com.au has contacted Mr Winkleman for comment.

Toddler Chloe Wiegand. Picture: Michael Winkleman
Toddler Chloe Wiegand. Picture: Michael Winkleman
It is unclear if Mr Anello will face charges. Picture: Michael Winkleman
It is unclear if Mr Anello will face charges. Picture: Michael Winkleman
The family lawyer, Michael Winkleman, claims Chloe thought the window was like the panes of glass at her brother’s hockey games. Picture: Michael Winkleman
The family lawyer, Michael Winkleman, claims Chloe thought the window was like the panes of glass at her brother’s hockey games. Picture: Michael Winkleman

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