THE family of a toddler who fell 150ft to her death from a cruise ship have released a picture they say proves her grandad isn’t to blame.
Eighteen-month-old Chloe Wiegand, from Indiana, plummeted 11 floors from the Freedom of the Seas, reportedly slamming into concrete below while the vessel was docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
She was said to have slipped from her grandfather Salvatore Anello’s arms and cops have been quizzing him as they decide whether to file charges of negligence – or worse.
One officer yesterday said he couldn’t rule out police filing murder charges.
But the family have since hit back at suggestions the girl’s grandfather was responsible, instead pinning blame for the tragedy on Royal Caribbean cruise line.
Their lawyer Michael Winkleman insisted the doting grandad placed little Chloe on a railing, believing it to be behind glass.
But he said one of the panes of glass in the children’s play area where the family were gathered was not there.
Chloe loved to look through windows and would often bang on the glass while watching her big brother play ice hockey, the family revealed.
And they released a picture of the toddler leaning on the see-through barrier at a hockey rink to back up their story.
Winkleman said: “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.
“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.”
He added: “Why in the world would you leave a window open in an entire glass wall full of windows in a kid’s area?”
CRIES OF AGONY
Mr Anello and several other family members were so hysterical after the child’s tragic death plunge that they had to be sedated by medics, according to El Vocero.
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.”
It is still not clear whether Mr Anello or anyone else will be prosecuted over Chloe’s death, with cops quizzing witnesses and reviewing CCTV before deciding whether to file 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.”
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[/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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