An 18-month-old girl who fell to her death from the 11th-floor deck of a cruise ship was not dropped by her grandfather and instead plunged from a window that had been left open in a play area, the family lawyer has said.
Police have been investigating her relative since the incident on the Freedom of the Seas in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Sunday afternoon.
Initial reports suggested the youngster – named as Chloe Wiegand – had slipped from his hands, but Miami-based attorney Michael Winkleman has said the story “is not as it had originally been portrayed in the media”.
He said in a statement: “The grandfather didn’t drop the child, the child fell due to an open glass pane that should have been closed securely.
“Chloe wanted to bang on the glass like she always did at her older brother’s hockey games. Her grandfather thought there was glass just like everywhere else, but there was not, and she was gone in an instant.”
Local police have declined to comment on his account of events, but said the family will remain in the country until their investigation is complete.
The family are from South Bend, Indiana, where father Alan Wiegand is a police officer.
City mayor Pete Buttigieg, a 2020 presidential hopeful, tweeted: “We are saddened by the terrible accident that took the life of Officer Wiegand’s young daughter, and the city is holding this family in our hearts.”
Investigators and forensics teams have been at the scene interviewing passengers who witnessed the fall, and cruise ship operator Royal Caribbean Cruises has said it is providing assistance.
Mr Winkleman said the family wants to know why a window that “should have been closed securely” was open.
He added: “The family needs answers as to why there would be an open window in a wall full of fixed windows in a kids’ play area? Why would you have the danger without any warning, sign, or notice?”
On Monday, Puerto Rico Ports Authority spokesman Jose Carmona said the family was gathered in or near a dining hall at the time of the incident, and that the grandfather had sat Chloe on the edge of a window.
He said it remained unclear whether the window was already open or if someone opened it.