Alan and Kimberly Wiegand are opening up for the first time after their 18-month-old daughter Chloe fell to her death from a window on a cruise ship in Puerto Rico earlier this month, telling the TODAY Show that the cruise company's safety oversight "cost our child her life."
Watch Kimberly and Alan Wiegand’s exclusive full interview with @savannahguthrie about the tragic death of their daughter, Chloe, who fell from a docked Royal Caribbean cruise ship.
“She just exuded love.” pic.twitter.com/tB9SLkk3ar— TODAY (@TODAYshow) July 22, 2019
"We obviously blame them for not having a safer situation on the 11th floor of that cruise ship. There are a million things that could've been done to make that safer. I know my mom was asking people, 'Why on earth is there a window open on the 11th floor without a screen or anything?'" Kimberly, told Savannah Guthrie in an interview that aired Monday morning.
"And their response to that was, 'We need ventilation.' Well, to that I would say, 'Get a fan. Come up with some other mechanism to make your guests comfortable, rather than creating a tremendous safety hazard that cost our child her life.'"
The family is now looking to hold Royal Caribbean responsible in court. "I think that they have to be [held responsible]," Kimberly said. "This cannot happen to another family."
Chloe died on July 7 after falling through an open window on the 11th floor of the Freedom of the Seas cruise ship while it was docked in San Juan. Kimberly recalled the awful moment she found out what happened.
"I didn't know that she went out a window,'' she said. "And I just kept saying, 'Take me to my baby. Where's my baby?' I didn't even notice a window. I ran over there, and I looked over, and it wasn't water down there, it was concrete. To lose our baby this way is just unfathomable."
The South Bend, Indiana couple shared memories of their little girl.
"I just know she was destined to do such great things,'' Kimberly said. "But even in her short life, I truly believe she changed so many lives." She said she loved watching her brother play hockey and helping her in the garden. "She could get anybody to smile," she said. "Her first word was 'Hi.' I mean, she loved people."
The family's attorney, Mike Winkleman, said that although there is "no doubt this was an accident," the question lies in "where there safety measures that could have been in place and should have been in place? If they were in place, again, there would have been no tragedy."
In a statement to the TODAY show, Royal Caribbean said: "We are deeply saddened by this incident, and our hearts go out to the family. We have assisted the authorities in San Juan with their inquiries, and they are the appropriate people to address further questions."
The family has said that the accident occurred after Chloe's grandfather picked her up and placed her on a railing he thought was behind a glass wall. They said he often did the same thing with her when they attended hockey games, letting her bang on the glass.
"He was extremely hysterical," Kimberly said. "The thing that he has repeatedly told us us, 'I believed that there was glass.' He will cry over and over and over. At no point ever, ever has Sam ever put our kids in danger.
"[He's] very, very distraught. You can barely look at him without him crying. She was his best friend."
Kimberly said that Chloe's brother told her, "'Mom, I wish I would've been standing there because I would've jumped, and I would've saved her.' That tore me up because I know that he believes that. And to know he's living with that, it's just so hard."0comments
"We'll never forget her," Alan said. "She's part of our soul that's not there any more."
"It's really easy to shut out the world and to give up, but we will not do that because that's not who Chloe was," Kimberly said. "Chloe was the light, and that's what is going to get us through every single day. We have to go on for her. We can't give up."
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