A summer cruise should be full of fun and relaxation, but for a South Bend, Indiana, family, it became memorable for all the wrong reasons.
One-year-old Chloe Wiegand and her family were enjoying a vacation on the Royal Caribbean ocean liner “Freedom of the Seas” when the young girl fell to her death from an 11th-floor window. The ship had docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
On July 7, little Chloe had been with her grandfather in a children’s area of the cruise ship when he picked her up to look out the window, according to the Sun-Sentinal.
What was assumed to be a glass window was actually an opening to the outside, and when Chloe went to bang her hands on the glass, as she did at her brother’s hockey games, the unthinkable happened and the child fell to her death.
Now that some time has passed, Alan and Kimberly Wiegand, Chloe’s parents, are speaking out about their experience.
“I never want another mother to have to experience this or to see what I had to see or to scream how I had to scream.” -Kimberly Wiegand, 18-month-old daughter died after falling from a cruise ship pic.twitter.com/I1AAeg9MiZ
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) July 22, 2019
In an exclusive interview with NBC’s “Today” show, the Wiegands expressed their emotions to Savannah Guthrie.
“The first 30 seconds of the day I don’t remember what happened, and then it comes back and I relive what happened,” Kimberly Wiegand said. “To lose our baby this way is just unfathomable.”
Alan and Kimberly Wiegand both recalled the ways that Chloe was the light of their life, reminiscing on the time they had with their daughter.
“She just exuded love,” Kimberly Wiegand told Guthrie.
While the interview allowed the Wiegands to remember their daughter, they also talked about the heartbreaking moments of the tragedy and the way they’ve been grieving as a family.
Kimberly’s father, Sam, was with Chloe when she fell.
“He was extremely hysterical,” Kimberly Wiegand said, speaking of her father’s character and love for her children.
“At no point ever, ever, has Sam ever put our kids in danger,” she said.
“She was his best friend,” Alan Wiegand added.
After the accident, the family stayed in San Juan while an investigation into the death began. While Chloe’s death is technically an accident, the family believes Royal Caribbean is ultimately to blame.
“We have a lot of questions,” Kimberly Wiegand said. “There are a million things that could have been done to make that safer.”
The Wiegand’s have hired attorney Michael Winkleman to represent them, and a lawsuit is being filed against the cruise company.
“This cannot happen to another family,” Kimberly Wiegand said.
Royal Caribbean released a statement to NBC about the accident, saying, “We are deeply saddened by this incident, and our hearts go out to the family.”
San Juan authorities are reportedly in advanced stages of their investigation and had no comment.
While this painful story continues, the Wiegand family does not have to face it alone.
Alan Wiegand is a police officer in South Bend, and his fellow officers showed up in full force to Chloe’s funeral on July 11 to help honor the little girl.
“Thank you to everyone who has allowed us to be helpful to our brother in his family’s time of need,” the South Bend FOP Lodge #36 wrote on its Facebook page.
The family is overwhelmed by the support they have received, and continue to keep the memory of their daughter alive.
“Chloe was the light,” Kimberly Wiegand said. “We have to go on for her.”
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