Dad’s fellow officers attend funeral for toddler who fell 11 stories on cruise ship

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP/CNN Newsource/WSBT) — An Indiana couple whose 18-month-old daughter fell to her death earlier this month from the 11th story of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship held a memorial service for the little girl Monday.

Chloe Wiegand’s parents, her two siblings and her two sets of grandparents last week flew from Puerto Rico to home in northern Indiana to arrange her funeral and grieve, said Michael Winkleman, a Miami-based attorney who’s representing the family.

“They’re absolutely devastated,” Winkleman said.

Several South Bend, Indiana police officers attended Wiegand’s memorial service on Monday in Granger, Indiana.

Her father is a fellow officer and more than a dozen police officers carried flowers as they attended the service Monday.

FILE – This May 11, 2006 file photo shows the Freedom of the Seas cruise ship docked in Bayonne, N.J. (AP Photo/Mike Derer, File)

“Though she was not on this earth long enough, her smile, beauty, and kindness changed every life she encountered,” Wiegand’s obituary said.

Winkleman has challenged Puerto Rico police’s statement that Chloe apparently slipped from her grandfather’s hands as he was holding her out of an 11th-floor window on the Freedom of the Seas on July 7.

Winkleman said Tuesday that she plunged from a window that had been inexplicably left open in a children’s play area. He said the Granger, Indiana, toddler was playing with her grandfather in the “kid’s water zone” on the ship as it was docked in Puerto Rico when she asked him to lift her to a wall of windows lining the play area.

The toddler wanted to bang on the glass “like she always did at her older brother’s hockey games,” Winkleman said last Tuesday “Her grandfather thought there was glass just like everywhere else, but there was not, and she was gone in an instant.”

Chloe Wiegand in a photo from CBS News

Winkleman said that window should have been closed securely and he sees grounds for the family to file a civil lawsuit against Royal Caribbean Cruises. He said the family is still seeking surveillance video from the area of the ship where Chloe fell to her death.

Police had no immediate comment last week on their investigation into the girl’s death.

Winkleman said the girl’s father, Alan Wiegand, who’s a police officer in South Bend, Indiana, was interviewed Wednesday by police investigating his youngest child’s death. He said that other relatives have also been interviewed by police on the U.S. island territory.

Royal Caribbean Cruises called the girl’s death a tragic incident in a statement last week and said it was helping the family. The cruise line has not commented on Winkleman’s statements about the circumstances of the girl’s death.

Royal Caribbean Cruises spokesman Owen Torres said in a statement Wednesday that the company continues assisting local authorities in San Juan in their investigation.

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