Parents say Royal Caribbean played “major role” in toddler’s death

The parents of a toddler who fell to her death from an open cruise ship window in July are telling why they filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the cruise line. Chloe Wiegand’s family blames Royal Caribbean for failing to “provide reasonably safe children entertainment areas, including reasonably safe windows.”

The girl’s grandfather, Sam Anello, said he lifted her to what he thought was a closed window when she fell from his arms. He is charged with negligent homicide in Puerto Rico, where the cruise ship was docked. 

This week is especially hard for the family because Chloe would have turned 2 years old on Friday, CBS News Correspondent David Begnaud reports. Her mother, Kim, said she should be getting ready to celebrate with cake and presents, but instead she spends time every night with Chloe’s urn.

“One of the things that disappoints me about all of it in losing Chloe is that, I think when you Google her name, all you’re going to see is things about court cases, and people really forget that this was a living, breathing human being, part of our family, an actual person that’s been lost,” Kim said.

“There will be people who watch this who say, and don’t understand, why you’re suing. What would you say?” Begnaud asked. 

“Because Royal Caribbean played a major role in our daughter’s death and because that condition shouldn’t have existed. I mean, we’ve said that since the beginning,” Kim responded.

Asked if he believes Chloe’s death was an accident, family attorney Michael Winkleman said he does. “Then why sue the cruise line?” Begnaud asked.

“Because they could have and should have done more to protect Chloe and to protect other kids,” Winkleman replied.

He argued the cruise ship did not comply with industry safety standards, including having fall prevention window guards, screens and a device that would have limited the window opening to four inches.

“It’s our clear allegation in the complaint that they either knew about these window safety, window fall prevention codes or should have known about them because it’s the industry standard,” Winkleman said.

Chloe’s parents reiterated that argument. “If they would have followed the safety codes and updated their ship, all their ships, then it never would have happened. She’d still be here today,” her dad, Alan, said. 

“We want them to fix their cruise ships so that no other kids get hurt,” Kim added.

Anello spoke briefly at a news conference Wednesday. “I sit here broken. We all sit here broken,” he said.

Asked if the family supports Anello, Kim said, “Of course we do. … We’ve always been a family. We continue to spend time together weekly. We continue to share dinners together.”

“It’s just tough. … She was my little girl. And she was the light of my life. And I don’t have her around anymore,” Alan said, crying.

In a statement, Royal Caribbean said its heart goes out to the family and that the company has no comment on the civil filing. 

Anello is due back in court next week in Puerto Rico. Kim, who is a prosecutor herself, said the family never wanted charges filed against Anello.

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