Local toddler dies after fall from cruise ship in Puerto Rico

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Authorities say a toddler with Michiana ties apparently slipped from her grandfather’s hands and fell to her death from a cruise ship docked in Puerto Rico, hitting the concrete below.

The incident occurred on Sunday afternoon, July 7, at the Panamerican dock in the capital of San Juan.

There are conflicting reports as to exactly what happened, with some reports stating that the girl accidentally slipped from the arms of her grandfather from a window in a recreation area.

The child’s father has been identified as a South Bend Police Officer.

Police Sgt. Nelson Sotelo told The Associated Press 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 docked in Puerto Rico. The death occurred Sunday afternoon at the Panamerican dock in the capital of San Juan.

Sotelo said the toddler’s maternal grandfather, Salvatore Anello of Valparaiso is under investigation. He said the rest of the family is from Granger.

South Bend Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski, confirmed to WSBT television that the girl was the daughter of Officer Alan Wiegand, and the department issued a statement saying it “asks the community to pray for the entire Wiegand family as they grieve and to respect their privacy.”

Ruszkowski disputed the statement issued by Puerto Rico police that the girl was being held out of a window.

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.

Royal Caribbean Cruises called it a tragic incident and said it was helping the family.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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