Family Lawyer Says Girl’s Plunge on Cruise Ship Isn’t ‘Like Michael Jackson’

By Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Breaking News Reporter
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.
July 10, 2019 Updated: July 10, 2019

The lawyer for the family of a 1-year-old girl who plunged to her death on a cruise ship invoked Michael Jackson.

After initial reports said Chloe Wiegland slipped from her grandfather’s arms over the weekend on a Royal Caribbean ship, the family’s attorney, Michael Winkelman, said her death wasn’t “like the Michael Jackson story, where [he] was dangling the child out the window,” reported the New York Post.

Winkelman said the grandfather, Salvetore Anello, placed her on the railing of the ship’s 11th floor and was not aware there was an open window before she fell. The ship was docked in Puerto Rico.

The girl when to bang on the window and fell through, dropping 150 feet to her death.

The family appears to hold Royal Caribbean responsible for the girl’s death.

“I think Royal Caribbean needs to answer these questions: Why would you ever in a kid’s play area put windows that passengers can open? I mean, we’ve all had that experience where someone walks into a glass sliding door thinking it’s not there,” Winkleman said. “This is the inverse of that. It was reasonable for Sam the grandfather to think that this was all glass because from his perspective, it was all glass.”

Reports said the grandfather is currently under investigation, but Winkleman said that security footage will reveal what really happened, according to the Post.

Royal Caribbean issued a statement about 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,” it reads.

Epoch Times Photo
Freedom of the Seas sits off the shores of Bayonne, New Jersey in New York Harbor on May 12, 2006. (Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images)

The girl was on the ship with her father, mother, grandparents, and siblings. Her father is a police officer in South Bend, Indiana, CBS News reported.

According to the CBS report, Winkleman said he hopes to get access to surveillance footage of the incident.

The South Bend Police Department also said in a statement, as USA Today reported, that the girl was the daughter of an officer.

It said, “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.”

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.”

Jack Phillips
Breaking News Reporter
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.