The family of a toddler who fell to her death from a Royal Caribbean Cruise ship in July has sued the cruise line for neglecting to provide warnings that any windows were open in a play area, officials announced Wednesday.
Alan Wiegand and his wife, Kimberly Schultz-Wiegand, filed the wrongful death lawsuit against Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd in Florida federal court on Wednesday – more than five months after their 18-month-old daughter, Chloe, died on July 7. It was the first day of the family’s week-long vacation to Puerto Rico aboard the Freedom of the Seas.
A spokesperson for the cruise line did not immediately provide FOX Business with a comment. Attorney Michael Winkleman announced the lawsuit during a press conference, which was also attended by the Wiegand family.
Chloe was with her grandfather, Sam Anello, in the H20 Zone, which is described in the suit as being a “kids’… water park” when she slipped through an open 11th-floor window and fell more than 100 feet from the ship, court papers show.
“There was not a single, adequate indication that this wall of glass panes was not actually a wall of fixed glass panes, but instead a wall of glass panes that could actually slide and remain open, as windows,” the 21-page lawsuit states. “[N]one of the glass panes, which were mere feet from the kids H20 Zone, contained … anything to warn passengers, such as Mr. Anello, of the hidden danger that some of the glass pane windows in the middle row may be slid open.”
The suit also describes how a wooden railing was roughly 18-inches in front of the windows, which made it harder to tell whether one was open. The toddler asked to be lifted onto the railing, as she often was during her brother’s hockey games, court papers say.
“Mr. Anello then lifted Chloe up onto the railing and held Chloe while she leaned forward to bang on the glass that Mr. Anello and Chloe thought to be in front of them,” the court documents show. “As Chloe leaned forward, however, there was no glass in the frame in front of her, and she slipped from Mr. Anello’s arms, falling through the open pane and down approximately 150 feet below onto the Pier in San Juan, resulting in her death.”
Anello was charged with negligent homicide in October and is due back in court on Dec. 17.
He told CBS in November he initially blamed himself for his granddaughter’s death, but now believes the cruise line should have had a sign-posted warning that windows in the area where she fell could be open.
If there was such a sign, he said, “this wouldn’t have happened.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.