An 18-month-old girl died in a tragic accident while the Royal Caribbean ship Freedom of the Seas was docked at a Puerto Rican port, The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports. The girl died when she slipped from her grandfather’s grasp and fell 11 stories to her death.
On Sunday, the vessel was docked at San Juan’s Pan American II port. The Indiana girl, who was traveling with her paternal and maternal grandparents, parents, and a younger brother, was being held in her grandfather’s hands. The grandfather, identified as Salvatore Anello, was holding her and playing with her on the 11th deck of the ship when the incident occurred. That deck is an open, public deck containing pools, a spa and fitness center, bars and cafes, and similar features of modern cruise ships.
Elmer Roman, of Puerto Rico’s Department of Public Security, describes what happened.
“[The grandfather], whom it would appear was playing with the little girl, lifted her out of the open window and lost his grip,” he said.
“That tonality, a scream of pain of that nature, does not compare with any other scream,” the witness said.
In a statement, Royal Caribbean spokesperson Owen Torres asked the media to respect the family’s privacy.
“We are deeply saddened by yesterday’s tragic incident, and our hearts go out to the family. Out of respect for their privacy, we do not plan to comment further on the incident.”
The child, who is believed to have been 18 months old, is understood to have fallen from the Freedom of the Seas ship onto the concrete port below https://t.co/JTR6mGREjU— Sky News (@SkyNews) July 8, 2019
Freedom of the Seas, which launched in 2006, is the 15th largest passenger ship in the world and can hold almost 5,000 passengers and crew. She is based in San Juan and sails out of the Puerto Rican port for seven-night cruises to Saint Thomas, Saint John, and Saint Lucia
Tens of thousands of people cruise on cruise ships every year, and so rare are passenger deaths on those vessels that, when they do happen, they make the news. On most modern cruise vessels, the most common cause of deaths, apart from passengers dying of natural causes such as old age, are falls overboard, according to injury lawyer Terry Bryant. While some such falls are due to negligent safety protocols on the ship, most are due to passenger error, and alcohol often plays a factor.
Just last week, a 37-year-old passenger fell overboard from a Carnival cruise ship. The U.S. Coast Guard has called off the search for the missing man.