Toddler slips from grandfather's arms, falls to her death from 11th floor of Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas
An American toddler fell 150 feet to her death Sunday after being dropped from the 11th floor of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.
The victim, a 1-year-old girl from Granger, Ind., was traveling with her father, identified as South Bend police officer Alan Wiegand, her mother, two siblings and both sets of grandparents aboard the Freedom of the Seas, which had just returned to port in San Juan, Puerto Rico, following a weeklong trip through the Caribbean, the Associated Press reports.
The toddler's maternal grandfather, identified as Salvatore Anello, was reportedly playfully dangling the child from one of the ship's port-side windows when he lost his grasp, sending the girl plummeting into an awning before she landed on the concrete dock below.
"It's a very grave scene, very regrettable and tragic," Elmer Román, an official with the Puerto Rican Department of Public Security, told Puerto Rico's Primera Hora newspaper. "One of the grandfathers, whom it would appear was playing with the little girl, lifted her out of the open window and lost his grip."
A witness who was aboard the Freedom of the Seas at the time of the incident described the tragedy to Telemundo Puerto Rico:
"I looked because of the mother’s cry," the tourist told the outlet. "That tonality, a scream of pain of that nature, does not compare with any other scream.”
Later that day, the captain of the ship reportedly made an announcement over the boat's loudspeaker offering condolences to the victim's family and informing passengers that the cruise would be departing with delay.
CBS News reports the ship eventually left San Juan on Sunday evening at 8:30 p.m. to begin a seven-day cruise around the Caribbean islands, with its next scheduled stop in St. Maarten on Monday morning.
Police Sgt. Nelson Sotelo told the Associated Press that the victim's family will remain in the U.S. territory while the girl's death is investigated.
"They're in shock," he told the outlet.
Owen Torres, corporate communications manager for Royal Caribbean, told AOL.com that the company was "deeply saddened by yesterday's tragic incident, and our hearts go out to the family."
"We’ve made our Care Team available to assist the family with any resources they need," Torres said, noting, "out of respect for [the family's] privacy, we do not plan to comment further on the incident."