INDIANAPOLIS – The 1-year-old daughter of an Indiana police officer died Sunday afternoon after she slipped from her grandfather's hands and fell from a cruise ship docked in Puerto Rico, one day before their week-long voyage was to begin.
Police Sgt. Nelson Sotelo told The Associated Press that the girl's grandfather, identified as Salvatore Anello of Valparaiso, Indiana, told officers he lost his grip while holding her outside a window on the 11th story of Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas while it was still docked in San Juan, police said Monday. According to deck plans, the 11th floor is home to the pool area, restaurants and the spa.
Sotelo said Anello of Valparaiso, Indiana, is under investigation.
The girl's father has been identified by the South Bend Police Department as Officer Alan Wiegand. According to authorities, the family was from Granger, located about 10 miles northeast of South Bend.
Sotelo told the AP that the family of the child will remain in the U.S. territory until the investigation is complete. He said officers have not been able to interview any relatives yet.
"They're in shock," he said.
Authorities said the girl was traveling with her parents, two siblings and two sets of grandparents aboard the Freedom of the Seas, which which had not yet departed San Juan's Panamerica dock for its first stop in St. Maarten.
Royal Caribbean said it was "deeply saddened" by Sunday's accident.
"We’ve made our Care Team available to assist the family with any resources they need," Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Melissa Charbonneau said in an email to The Indianapolis Star. "Out of respect for their privacy, we do not plan to comment further on the incident."
The South Bend Police Department issued the following statement Monday morning:
"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 asks the community to pray for the entire Wiegand family as they grieve and to respect their privacy."
Death marks cruise line's second fatal fall of 2019
This is the second fatal fall on a Royal Caribbean cruise so far this year. The Sun-Sentinel reports that in January, 16-year-old Laurent Mercer from the French island Wallis and Futuna died while trying to access his room.
Authorities said the teen was attempting to enter his room via the balcony because he did not have his room key and lost his footing. The ship was docked at at Labadee, Haiti.
In October 2017, an 8-year-old girl fell to her death on a Carnival cruise shortly after arriving in Miami, according to The Washington Post. Officials said the girl fell about 20 feet to a lower deck.
KHOU 11 News reports that a 3-year-old girl was flown to the hospital after falling from the balcony of a Carnival ship in August 2017. The child suffered facial injuries after falling from her stateroom balcony to an outdoor deck one level below.
In December 2012, a 1-year-old from India was hospitalized on the Royal Caribbean ship Monarch of the Seas after crawling through the railing of an 11th floor balcony and falling to a balcony below, WFTV 9 reported.
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Indiana family 'in shock' after toddler dies following 11-story fall from cruise ship