A toddler who fell 45 metres to her death from the 11th floor of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship was being held out of a window, authorities say.
The one-year-old girl was being held by her grandfather, identified as Salavatore Anello, when he lost grip of the child while the Freedom of the Seas vessel was docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico on Sunday, an official told Primera Hora.
"It's a very grave scene, very regrettable and tragic," Elmer Román, of the Puerto Rican Department of Public Security, said.
"One of the grandfathers, whom it would appear was playing with the little girl, lifted her out of the open window and lost his grip."
The girl was travelling with her father, Indiana police officer Alan Wiegand, who worked in South Bend.
She was also on-board with mother Kimberly Wiegand, two siblings and both sets of grandparents when the Freedom of the Seas, which had just returned to port after a week-long trip through the Caribbean, The Associated Press reported.
A witness described the horror as the toddler fell onto the concrete ground below.
"I looked because of the mother’s cry," the tourist told local outlet Telemundo Puerto Rico.
"That tonality, a scream of pain of that nature, does not compare with any other scream.”
Later that day, the captain of the ship reportedly made an announcement over the boat's loudspeaker offering condolences to the victim's family and informing passengers the cruise would be departing with delay.
Grandfather under investigation
The ship eventually left San Juan on Sunday at 8.30pm (local time) to begin a seven-day cruise around the Caribbean islands, with its next scheduled stop in St. Maarten on Monday morning, CBS reported.
Police Sgt Nelson Sotelo said the victim's family would remain in the US territory while the girl's death was investigated.
"They're in shock," he told the outlet, while confirming Mr Anello was under investigation.
The police chief of South Bend, Scott Ruszkowski, disputed the statement issued by Puerto Rico police that the girl was being held out of a window in an interview with US news outlet WSBT.
Puerto Rico Ports Authority spokesman José Carmona told The Associated Press 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.
He said officials were investigating whether the window was already opened or if someone had opened it.
Owen Torres, corporate communications manager for Royal Caribbean, told AOL.com the company was "deeply saddened by yesterday's tragic incident, and our hearts go out to the family".
"We’ve made our Care Team available to assist the family with any resources they need," Mr Torres said, noting, "out of respect for [the family's] privacy, we do not plan to comment further on the incident".
With Associated Press
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