THE family of the toddler who died after plunging from the 11th floor of a cruise ship were left fuming after the ship operator “refused” to hand over crucial CCTV.
Little Chloe Weigand tumbled 150 feet from the Royal Caribbean ship Freedom of the Seas while it was docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The family’s lawyer Michael Winkleman told Sun Online that the cruise operator Royal Caribbean have “outright refused to produce the video” of the incident which is the “most crucial piece of evidence” in the tragedy.
Early reports suggested that the 18-month-old from Indiana in the US, slipped out of her grandfather Salvatore Anello’s arms as he held her out of an open window on Sunday.
However the family have strongly refuted the claims, saying the tot fell through an open glass pane that should have been closed securely in a kids water play area.
All the family have barely been eating or talking – they are just in pieces across the board. They are doing very poorly
Chloe's lawyer, Michael Winkleman
The family, including mum Kimberly Schultz Wiegand and dad police officer Alan Wiegand, weren’t allowed to leave the island of Puerto Rico while police investigated the incident and even refused to rule out murder charges.
Winkleman said officials had now “paused” the probe to allow the grieving family to return home and hold a funeral for the little girl.
But he says the stress of the investigation has taken its toll on the already grieving family who he described as “in pieces” over the loss of Chloe.
“My understanding is the police have put a pause on the investigation to let the family go home with Chloe and have the funeral,” Winkleman, the family’s Miami-based attorney told Sun Online.
“Then they will pick things back up at the end of the month.
“It’s just adding extra trauma to what the family are already going through.
“They were already stuck in Puerto Rico for four days when all they wanted to do was get home and lay their child to rest.
“All the family have barely been eating or talking – they are just in pieces across the board.
“They are doing very poorly. Hopefully now with them being back home they can start to process things a little better.
“When they were stuck in Puerto Rico it was very difficult for them to process what happened.
“Chloe’s older brother is 10 and he’s doing very poorly. One of the first things the family are going to do when they get back is take him to the doctor to see if they can help and get him talking a little bit more.”
Chloe’s grandfather – known as Sam – was playing with Chloe when she asked him to lift her up on to a railing so she could bang on the glass, like she does at her older brother’s ice hockey games.
Tragically he thought there was glass there because it was in a wall of fixed windows – but it was open and she fell on to the concrete below.
When asked if the family blame Chloe’s grandfather for the death, Winkleman said: “I don’t even know if they’re necessarily at the point where they are even thinking about blame.
“I know they’ve heard all the reports about him being very careless and holding Chloe out of the window – which he has steadfastly disputed.
“The focus for them is just getting home and laying Chloe to rest.”
He added: “I think this was a perfect storm of bad things that happened concurrently so generally are these kind of windows dangerous to passengers?
“No not necessarily, but there are laws and codes in the United States that are specifically designed to prevent children falling out of windows.
“It’s our early belief that these windows were not compliant with those regulations.”
Winkleman said the next stage of the investigation was to get hold of the CCTV footage – which he believes will prove the grandfather’s version of events – and pin blame on Royal Caribbean for allowing the window to be open without any warning signs or notices.
However he claims he has made repeated requests for the footage to Royal Caribbean which has refused to hand it over.
Police in Puerto Rico have a copy of a video from the interior of the ship showing the fatal fall – and offered to show it to Chloe’s parents but the couple were too distraught to view the distressing footage.
Instead they asked for a copy – but cops refused.
“One of the hold ups in our investigation is that Royal Caribbean have not provided us with CCTV footage of the incident which is the most critical piece of evidence,” Winkleman explained.
“At this point they’ve outright refused to produce the video.
“We definitively know there is footage of the incident from the interior of the ship because the police in Puerto Rico wanted to show it to the family but not surprisingly the mom and dad were not willing or ready to watch it at that point.
“They asked for a copy of it but the police would not give it to them.
“So for us now the next stage of the investigation is to get hold of the video.
“We’ve repeatedly requested it through Royal Caribbean.
“If they are not willing to turn it over – it will speed up the timetable of us filing a lawsuit.
“There is no question that at some point we will get that video because we are absolutely entitled to it.”
The grandfather 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 wailing in agony after Chloe fell to her death.
Sun Online reached out to Royal Caribbean for comment on the CCTV issue but has yet to receive a response.
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In an earlier statement they said: “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.”
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