SOUTH BEND — A local family’s worst nightmare: their toddler fell to her death after slipping out the 11th story window of a cruise ship docked in Puerto Rico on Sunday.
The family lives and works locally.
The girl’s mother is Kimberly Wiegand, who used to be a deputy prosecutor for St. Joseph County. Her father is Officer Alan Wiegand with the South Bend Police Department.
The 18-month-old was accompanied aboard the Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas ship by her parents, four grandparents and two siblings.
The cruise ship was just hours away from departing San Juan, Puerto Rico when tragedy struck.
According to a spokesman for the local Port Authority, Sal Anello, the toddler’s grandfather was playing with the toddler around 4:30 Sunday afternoon in the 11th floor dining hall. The spokesman says the grandfather sat the girl in the window and lost his balance, and the girl fell to her death.
Anello works in the IT department for St. Joseph County and his boss told WSBT 22 Anello is a model employee.
“People just love him here in the county. He’s a very selfless man, he’s got a servant’s heart, as we say. And just one of the most wonderful human beings that you could ever meet,” said Mike Hamann, St. Joseph County auditor.
Anello has worked for the county for a little over a year, but it’s clear he’s already made a big impression.
Hamann says everyone is praying for Anello and his family and that they’re mourning with him.
“His work is very much appreciated by the folks here in St. Joseph County,” said Hamann. “He’s very popular in that regard, and he’s just a model employee from my standpoint.”
Authorities say the incident is being investigated as an accident right now. The family isn’t allowed to leave Puerto Rico while the investigation continues.
South Bend police were quick to respond Monday with a statement:
“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.”