Cruise Ship Tragedy: Family, Friends Pay Tribute to Indiana Toddler Who Died After Slipping From Grandfather's Arms

Tributes have been paid to an Indiana toddler who died after reportedly slipping from her grandfather's arms on a cruise ship.

The girl's grandfather was believed to have been holding her when she fell from the 11th story of the Freedom of the Seas cruise ship on Sunday, Police Sgt. Nelson Sotelo told The Associated Press. The authorities have not yet revealed the girl's name, but she has been identified as Chloe Wiegand by media outlets such as The Sun.

At the time, the vessel run by the Royal Caribbean cruise firm was docked in the Panamerican dock in the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan.

Britain's The Sun newspaper reported the girl's mother shared photos of her and her daughter on Facebook following the death. The mother's name was spelled both as Kimberley Schultz Wiegand and Kimberly Schultz Wiegand in the report.

Friends and family paid tribute to the child according to the newspaper, with one writing: "Sweet angel. Praying for you and your family Kim" according to the outlet.

"You are loved. Praying for you and your family. I'm so sorry," wrote another.

The girl's father, Alan Wiegand, was an officer for South Bend Police Department. The force released a statement offering its condolences. "The department asks the community to pray for the Wiegand family as they grieve and to respect their privacy," it said.

Pete Buttigieg, South Bend, Indiana mayor and Democratic presidential hopeful, tweeted: "We are saddened by the terrible accident that took the life of Officer Wiegand's young daughter, and the city is holding this family in our hearts."

The authorities have launched an investigation, which involves the toddler's maternal grandfather Salvatore Anello, Sotelo said. The family will stay in Puerto Rico while it is carried out, according to the Police Sgt. Sotelo said the family were "in shock."

José Carmona, spokesman of the Puerto Rico Ports Authority, told CNN the grandfather was playing with the 18-month-old in a dining area on deck 11, which features large windows. At around 5 p.m. the girl fell and "died on impact" after Anello sat her in an open window pane and lost balance, said Carmona.

The ship was due to start a week-long voyage at 8:30 p.m. that evening, according to Carmona. He said the incident is thought to have been an accident.

Contrary to some news reports, South Bend police chief Scott Ruszkowski told CBS affiliate WSBT he did not believe the child was held out of a window before her death.

On Twitter, South Bend Police pleaded with members of the public to leave the family alone. "PLEASE! Stop speculating and creating non-factual narratives! And please, leave the family alone, they've more than enough to contend with while suffering ..." a tweet by the force read.

Mike Hamann, the auditor and head of IT at St. Joseph County, Indiana, told WSBT that Anello works in his department. Sotelo told the Associated Press the grandfather is from the Indianian city of Valparaiso, while the other family members are from Granger, around 60 miles away.

Hamann told WSBT: "Sal works in the IT department, he's a very valuable employee. Wonderful, just, would do anything for you. And we're just mourning with him."

A Royal Caribbean spokesperson told Newsweek the firm was "deeply saddened" by the "tragic incident and our hearts go out to the family."

The spokesperson said: "We've made our Care Team available to assist the family with any resources they need. Out of respect for their privacy, we do not plan to comment further on the incident."

This article has been updated with a statement from Royal Caribbean.

freedom of the seas, royal caribbean, getty
The Freedom of the Seas cruise ship owned by Royal Caribbean, sits off the shores of Bayonne, New Jersey 12 May, 2006 in New York Harbor. A toddler died after falling from the cruise ship. DON EMMERT/AFP
Cruise Ship Tragedy: Family, Friends Pay Tribute to Indiana Toddler Who Died After Slipping From Grandfather's Arms | U.S.