The grieving parents of a toddler who fell 45 metres to her death from an open window of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship have opened up about their ordeal.
Kimberly and Alan Wiegand, from Indiana, spoke of their “unfathomable” grief over their 18-month -old daughter, Chloe, after she died while aboard the Freedom of the Seas cruise in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
In an emotional interview with NBC’s Today, they also talked about the hysteria felt by the little girl’s grandfather, Sam, who lifted the toddler up while in the children’s play area and placed her on the railing of a window, which he believed to be a closed part of a glass wall.
“He was extremely hysterical. The thing that he has repeatedly told us is, ‘I believed that there was glass,’” Ms Wiegand said.
“He will cry over and over and over. At no point ever, ever, has Sam ever put our kids in danger.”
Mr Wiegand went on to say Chloe’s grandfather is “very, very distraught,” and can hardly look at them without crying.
The family previously said Chloe’s grandfather was trying to lift her up to the glass so she could bang on the window like she would at her brothers’ hockey games.
When the mother realised something had happened, all she could ask repeatedly was: “Where is my baby?”
Initially oblivious to the open window, the mother was restrained by staff before tragically looking out of the opening.
“It wasn’t water down there, it was concrete,” she said, holding back tears.
Family looking for answers from Royal Caribbean
And while the parents are wrestling with their own pain from the loss, they’re also still searching for answers from the cruise company, which they claim was lacking in safety precautions that could have saved their daughter’s life.
“We obviously blame them for not having a safer situation on the 11th floor of that cruise ship. There are a million things that could've been done to make that safer,” Ms Wiegand.
“I know my mum was asking people, ‘Why on earth is there a window open on the 11th floor without a screen or anything?’”
According to the family, the cruise line said the window was a way to ventilate the area.
“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.’” Ms Wiegand said.
The grieving parents are now looking to hold the cruise line responsible with the help of their family attorney, Mike Winkleman, to ensure that this doesn’t happen to another family.
“To lose our baby this way is just unfathomable.”
In a statement to Yahoo Lifestyle, a Royal Caribbean Cruise spokesperson said the company was doing whatever they can to assist inquiries.
“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 spokesperson said.
The Puerto Rico Department of Justice told NBC News the investigation was in its advanced stages, so it cannot make any additional comments.
“I just know she was destined to do such great things,” Ms Wiegand said about Chloe.
“But even in her short life, I truly believe she changed so many lives.”
“We’ll never forget her,” Mr Wiegand added.
“She’s part of our soul that’s not there any more.”
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.