THE toddler who plunged to her death from a cruise ship window was not being dangled out like in the Michael Jackson balcony scandal, the family’s lawyer has said.
Little Chloe Wiegand fell 150ft from a Royal Caribbean ship after allegedly slipping from her grandfather’s arms while sat by a wall of windows on Sunday.
Lawyer Michael Winkleman has claimed grandad Salvatore Anello did not dangle and drop 18-month-old Chloe – she fell because an open glass pane should have been closed securely.
This is not “like the Michael Jackson story, where he was dangling the child out the window,” Mr Winkleman told a news conference on Tuesday, according to CNN.
This is a reference to the time the King of Pop horrified the world when he held his nine-month-old son Blanket over balcony railings in 2002.
Cops probing the death, which occurred when the Freedom of the Seas was docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico, have said murder cannot be ruled out.
The family’s lawyer said it is not ‘like the Michael Jackson story’ – referring to when the singer dangled his baby Blanket over a balcony[/caption]
But Mr Winkleman has accused the cruise line of negligence, saying Mr Anello didn’t realise one of the panes of glass was open.
He told how Chloe and her grandad were “in the water park on the ship, which is designed for the kids – kids are meant to be there”.
“And there’s a whole wall of windows. And the grandfather thought that this window was closed. It turns out, we’ve come to learn that passengers can open these windows,” he added.
“You have a wall of windows with one hidden hole.”
The grandad then placed Chloe on the wood railing before the wall of windows, believing she would bang on the glass just like she does at her brother’s hockey games, reports claim.
“Essentially, her grandfather lifts her up and puts her on a railing and where he thinks that there is glass there because it’s clear, but it turns out there was no glass there,” Mr Winkleman said.
“She goes to bang on the glass like she would have at one of those hockey rinks, and the next thing you know, she’s gone.”
The toddler’s distraught parents, Alan and Kimberly Wiegand, now want to know why the kids’ area had an open window.
“Why in the world would you leave a window open in an entire glass wall full of windows in a kid’s area?” Mr Winkleman said.
“It was reasonable for Sam the grandfather to think that this was all glass because from his perspective it was all glass.”
Chloe plummeted 11 floors from the ship, reportedly slamming into concrete below while the vessel was docked.
Her grandad was reportedly so hysterical after the girl fell to her death that he had to be sedated.
Police previously said early indications suggested the toddler died as a result of a tragic accident.
But cops have since confirmed that they have not ruled out any possibilities.
Sgt Jose D. Sanchez, acting head of the San Juan Police Department’s Homicide Division, told DailyMail.com: “There are various possibilities. It could be a homicide.
“It could be a murder. It could be an accident.
“We are currently in the very early stages of the investigation. We haven’t ruled out any possibility.
“We are doing a professional, thorough investigation into the events to explain the death of this little girl.”
Puerto Rico Ports Authority spokesman José Carmona said officials are investigating whether the window was already opened or if someone had opened it.
It is still not clear whether Mr Anello or anyone else will be prosecuted over Chloe’s death.
Cops are quizzing witnesses and reviewing CCTV before deciding whether to file negligence charges.
Henry Escalera Rivera, Commissioner of the Police Bureau, told Prima Hora: “This is a process that is under investigation.
“We must wait to interview relatives and evaluate other evidence to determine if the filing of charges is appropriate.”
Witnesses told how they heard the family, from Indiana, US, wailing in agony after Chloe fell to her death.
One passenger told Telemundo PR: “We heard the screams of the families because we were close.
“A cry of pain of that nature does not compare with any other cry.”
Devastated mum Kimberley Schultz Wiegand posted pictures of herself with her little girl on Facebook in the wake of the tragedy.
Friends and family paid tribute, leaving comments like: “Sweet angel. Praying for you and your family Kim.”
Another wrote: “You are loved. Praying for you and your family. I’m so sorry.”
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A spokesperson for Royal Caribbean told Sun Online: “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.”
Police at the scene of the tragedy yesterday[/caption]
The Freedom of the Seas ship was docked in Puerto Rico at the time[/caption]
Police have been interviewing passengers who witnessed the horror[/caption]
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