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Lawyer: Grandfather thought window was closed before Indiana toddler fell from cruise ship

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Posted at 11:19 AM, Jul 09, 2019

MIAMI — The lawyer for an Indiana family whose toddler died after falling out the window of a cruise ship in Puerto Rico says the grandfather holding the little girl thought the window was closed when he put her up to take a look.

18-month-old Chloe Wiegand died Monday after she fell onto the concrete deck from the 11th story of the Freedom of the Seas.

READ | Indiana toddler dies after falling from cruise ship

Police originally said the toddler's grandfather told them he lost his grip while holding her outside a window. According to CNN, a cruise ship employee said the grandfather was playing with the little girl in a dining hall that has large windows and one pane was open. That employee said the grandfather sat the girl in the window and lost his balance before the girl fell.

The family's attorney, Michael Winkleman, addressed the media Tuesday, saying the story that was originally shared after Chloe's death was not entirely accurate. He said the window was in a "child friendly" play area on the ship and the window should have never been opened or should have had a warning of some kind because of its location.

Winkleman said Chloe was a huge hockey fan and she watched her older brother play and loved to bang on the glass.

"He puts her up on there thinking she's going to bang on the glass and it's going to be great, he puts her up on there and she leans forward and she's gone," Winkleman said.

He called the open window a "hidden danger."

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Winkleman says the family has retained them as a lawyer and they are looking into the possibility of filing a lawsuit.

Royal Caribbean issued a new statement on Tuesday that said, "We are assisting local authorities in San Juan, PR, as they make inquiries after an incident aboard Freedom of the Seas on Sunday. We do not have further information to share at this point."

On Monday, the South Bend Police Department confirmed the toddler is the daughter of a South Bend police officer. The SBPD released the following statement:

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.Royal Caribbean Cruises called it a tragic incident and said they were helping the family. They declined additional comment.

Royal Caribbean issued the following statement after the girl's death:

We are 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. Out of respect for their privacy, we do not plan to comment further on the incident.No further details were released. The investigation is ongoing.

You can watch the full press conference with the family's attorney below.