Parents of Girl Who Fell From Cruise Ship Speak Out for the First Time & Place Direct Blame

The Wiegands speak with Savannah Guthrie, through tears
Today Show/YouTube

It's been two weeks since 1-1/2-year-old Chloe Wiegand fell to her death from a cruise ship docking in San Juan -- right before the eyes of her horrified parents. The shocking death made headlines around the world, as we all collectively wondered just how such a tragic accident could occur, and how the girl's mother and father were possibly coping after what they'd witnessed. On Monday morning, Alan and Kimberly Wiegand offered a glimpse into that unbearable grief, when they opened up to Savannah Guthrie on the Today Show about their "unfathomable" pain.

  • When the accident occurred, Chloe was with her family in a children's play area on the 11th floor of the Freedom of the Seas cruise ship.

    According to the family, the girl's grandfather, Sam Anello, was with her at the time, and they emphatically deny initial reports, which stated that he "dangled" the toddler out the window and she slipped from his grasp.

    In truth, they say Anello had lifted up the little girl and placed her on a railing that rested behind a wall of glass panels. The little girl excitedly looked out, as the cruise ship came to dock, but unbeknownst to Anello, one of the glass panels was actually a window that had been opened. When the toddler went to bang on the glass she thought was there -- which she often did at her brothers' hockey games -- she fell out of the window and plunged 150 feet onto the concrete platform below.

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  • As tears poured down her cheeks, Kimberly Wiegand recalled the harrowing moments after she learned that her baby girl had died.

    "I didn't know that she went out a window,'' she told Guthrie. "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."

    According to witnesses, Kimberly let out a primal scream that was heard throughout the cruise deck.

    Speaking with Guthrie on Monday, she recalled a mother coming up to her and embracing her during those earth-shattering moments.

    "This one mother just came and held me and embraced me and I'll never forget it," Wiegand shared. "She just said, 'God, watch over this family.' I just want to thank her. I don't know where she is or who she is."

  • Meanwhile, the girl's grandfather was so distraught, Kimberly says he became "extremely hysterical."

    "The thing that he has repeatedly told us is, 'I believed that there was glass,'" Kimberly said. "He will cry over and over and over."

    The grieving mother also tried to set the record straight that Anello has always been responsible and has never acted negligently before when it came to their kids.

    "At no point ever, ever has Sam ever put our kids in danger," she continued. "[He's] very, very distraught. You can barely look at him without him crying. She was his best friend."

  • Even the Wiegand's young sons are haunted by the memory of what happened, just feet away from where they were playing.

    "There was one point where my son said, 'Mom, I wish I would've been standing there because I would've jumped, and I would've saved her,'" Kimberly told Guthrie. "That tore me because I know that he believes that. And to know he's living with that, it's just so hard."

  • Both Kimberly and Alan strongly believe the fault lies with Royal Caribbean.

    "We obviously blame them for not having a safer situation on the 11th floor of that cruise ship," Kimberly shared. "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?'"

    The grieving mother says the cruise line had an answer for that: They needed to provide ventilation for the upper deck. But she's not buying that entirely. 

    "Well, to that I would say, 'Get a fan,'" Kimberly responded. "'Come up with some other mechanism to make your guests comfortable, rather than creating a tremendous safety hazard that cost our child her life.'"

  • Although the family plans to take legal action against the cruise line, for now they're focusing on carrying on their daughter's memory.

    The Wiegands say their little girl radiated light and positivity, and she loved meeting new people. In fact, their baby's first word was "Hi."

    "I just know she was destined to do such great things,'' Kimberly shares in the heartbreaking interview. "But even in her short life, I truly believe she changed so many lives."