American Toddler Dies After Falling Out of Cruise Ship Window

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
July 8, 2019US News
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American Toddler Dies After Falling Out of Cruise Ship Window
Freedom of the Seas, a cruise ship, sits off the shores of Bayonne, New Jersey, in a file photo. (Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images)

An American toddler died after falling out of a cruise ship window while the ship was docked in Puerto Rico.

The girl died on impact after falling from the 11th floor while on Royal Caribbean’s “Freedom of the Seas,” which was docked in San Juan, on July 7.

The girl’s grandfather had her in his arms but slipped, dropping her from the window, reported Telemundo.

Elmer Roman with the Department of Public Security told local outlet Primera Hora that the grandfather was “playing games” with the girl when the tragedy occurred.

“The grandfather holds the girl out of the window … the girl falls out of his hands and dies,” he said.

Roman said the family hailed from Indiana.

A spokesman for the Port Authority where the ship was docked told CNN that the grandfather was holding the girl in a dining hall on deck 11. The hall has large windows and one of the panes was open.

The girl was perched on the window, placed by her grandfather, when he lost his balance and the girl fell, Port Authority spokesman Jose Carmona said.

“Sadly, she died on impact,” Carmona said.

The grandfather, Salvatore Anello, told police that he was holding the girl out of the window when he lost his grip, according to the Associated Press.

Witnesses said the sound of the girl hitting the balcony below the deck and hitting the pavement was audible. She reportedly plunged around 150 feet.

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

Daughter of Officer

The girl was later identified as the daughter of South Bend Police Department officer Alan Weigand.

She was not identified by name.

She was 19 months old at the time of the death.

“The South Bend Police Department offers its sincerest condolences to Officer Alan Wiegand and his family during this difficult time following the tragic loss of their child while in Puerto Rico. The department asks the community to pray for the entire Wiegand family as they grieve and to respect their privacy,” the department said in a statement.

It also lashed out at media outlets, writing: “PLEASE! Stop speculating and creating non-factual narratives! And please, leave the family alone, they’ve more than enough to contend with while suffering.”

Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski told WSBT that the grandfather and girl were on a balcony, disputing reports that stated the grandfather was holding the girl out of a window.

He didn’t disclose further details about what the department had learned.

In a statement, Royal Caribbean said it was “deeply saddened” by what happened.

“We are deeply saddened by yesterday’s tragic incident, and our hearts go out to the family,” Royal Caribbean Cruises said. “We’ve made our Care Team available to assist the family with any resources they need. Out of respect for their privacy, we do not plan to comment further on the incident.”

Police Sgt. Nelson Sotelo told the AP on Sunday that the family was going to remain in Puerto Rico until an investigation was completed, noting that none of them had been interviewed.

“They’re in shock,” he said.

Relatives on the cruise included the girl’s parents, her two siblings, and both sets of grandparents.

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