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Puerto Rico Cruise Ship Death

The Freedom of the Seas cruise ship is docked in 2006 in Bayonne, N.J. Police in Puerto Rico say on July 7 a toddler apparently slipped from her grandfather's hands and fell to her death on this cruise ship, Freedom of the Seas, while docked in Puerto Rico. 

A toddler from Indiana, the daughter of a vacationing police officer, fell to her death Sunday from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship that was docked in Puerto Rico.

The girl, 1 1/2, fell from the 11th floor of the Freedom of the Seas ship while it was docked at Pan American II port in San Juan, according to the Telemundo station in Puerto Rico. The station also reported that the girl accidentally slipped from the arms of her grandfather, a Valparaiso resident, from a window in a recreation area.

The 11th deck of the ship where the incident took place has a pool area, spa and fitness center, bars and cafes, according to the ship’s deck plans.

Puerto Rico Ports Authority spokesman José Carmona told the AP that the family was gathered in or near a dining hall on the 11th floor and that the grandfather sat the toddler on the edge of a window. He said officials are investigating whether the window was already opened or if someone had opened it.

“It’s a very grave scene, very regrettable and tragic,” Elmer Roman of the Department of Public Security of Puerto Rico told the Primera Hora newspaper.

South Bend Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski, speaking with WSBT television, disputed a report that the child was being held outside a window when the incident happened.

The newspaper also reported that the child was traveling with her parents, siblings and both sets of grandparents. Her identity was not released but police told The Associated Press that the child’s grandfather, Salvatore Anello of Valparaiso is under investigation.

The girl’s father was identified as South Bend, Ind., police officer Alan Wiegand, officials confirmed Monday.

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“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 released in a statement. “The department asks the community to pray for the entire Wiegand family as they grieve and to respect their privacy.”

The Department of Public Security of Puerto Rico, which is investigating the case, also said on social media, “We sympathize with the family of the girl who died.”

In a statement to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Royal Caribbean’s communications manager, Owen Torres, wrote, “We are deeply saddened by yesterday’s tragic incident, and our hearts go out to the family. Out of respect for their privacy, we do not plan to comment further on the incident.”

The ship, which made its U.S. debut in 2006, is based in Puerto Rico where it departs for seven-night sailings to the southern Caribbean including stops in St. Thomas, St. John and St. Lucia.

Falling from vessels is unusual but not unheard of, whether at sea or in port. More than 300 people have fallen overboard on cruise ships since 2000 — some accidentally, some intentionally — according to website Cruise Junkie.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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