The father of an 18-month-old Indiana girl who died after falling several stories from a cruise ship July 7 was identified as a police officer.
The girl’s identity was not released, but police told The Associated Press that her grandfather Salvatore Anello of Valparaiso, Indiana, is under investigation.
Her father was also identified as Alan Wiegand, an officer in South Bend.
— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) July 8, 2019
“They’re in shock,” Police Sgt. Nelson Sotelo told AP about the family’s reactions.
“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 South Bend police department said in a statement. “The department asks the community to pray for the entire Wiegand family as they grieve and to respect their privacy.”
The girl died on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, Freedom of the Seas, said Port Authority spokesman Jose Carmona in a CNN report on July 8.
He said the girl was placed in the window by her grandfather before losing his balance. The girl then fell to her death, Carmona said, adding that she “died on impact.”
— South Bend Police (@southbendpolice) July 8, 2019
“We are deeply saddened by yesterday’s tragic incident, and our hearts go out to the family,” Royal Caribbean Cruises told the network in a statement. “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.”
Furthermore, South Bend Police Chief Scott Ruszkowsk told WSBT that the child wasn’t being held outside the window when the girl fell.
— WISN 12 NEWS (@WISN12News) July 8, 2019
Police in Puerto Rico are investigating the matter, and Carmona described it as an accident. The 1-year-old’s body was taken to a forensic unit in San Juan, the capital.
The Freedom of the Seas eventually left San Juan on the evening of July 7 at 8:30 p.m. local time with 3,600 passengers on board, CBS News reported.
Witnesses described being startled by the sound of a woman screaming as the girl fell.
“[We heard] the screams of the families because we were close,” a passenger told Telemundo PR.
The person added: “I looked because of the mother’s cry. That tonality, a scream of pain of that nature, does not compare with any other scream.”
According to the website, Cruise Junkie, 12 people have fallen off cruise ships just this year, while since 2000, over 300 cruise and ferry passengers have gone overboard.
With cruise ships built so high, falling in the water may even give a better chance of survival.
In 2017, an 8-year-old girl died after falling from a balcony inside a cruise ship.
The girl reportedly fell on the Carnival Glory cruise ship while it was docked at the Dante B. Fascell Port of Miami on Oct. 14.
Epoch Times reporter Simon Veazey contributed to this report.