The parents of the 18-month-old girl who fell to her death on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship said enduring the pain of her loss and taking legal action has "been too much for all of us" after filing a lawsuit against the cruise line on Wednesday.
Kim and Alan Wiegand spoke with NBC's Kerry Sanders in an interview that aired on TODAY Thursday after the Indiana couple filed a civil lawsuit against Royal Caribbean alleging the cruise line's negligence contributed to their daughter Chloe's death.
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"You can't even wrap your mind around what's happened in the first place, and then you have to also grasp this other issue that's now happening,'' Kim Wiegand said about the lawsuit. "Frankly it's too much. It's just too much for all of us."
The couple said they filed the lawsuit because they believe the tragic accident could've been prevented by the cruise line.
"We believe that filing a lawsuit against the cruise line sends a message to them that they were wrong,'' Kim said at a press conference Wednesday. "Most of all, we hope that this improves the safety of these ships for other children and other families."
They also reiterated that they do not blame Chloe's grandfather, Salvatore "Sam" Anello, in any way for what happened and do not support the criminal charges against him.
Anello was charged with negligent homicide in October after Chloe fell 11 stories to her death on a Royal Caribbean ship docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on July 7 when he placed her near an open window he thought was closed. He could face up to three years in prison if convicted.
The lawsuit alleges Royal Caribbean was negligent because the cruise line didn't "adequately mark the open windows so that they are apparent to passengers."
The Freedom of the Seas cruise ship where the incident occurred has windows on the upper deck near the kids' play area that slide wide open.
"We expected it to be safe,'' Alan Wiegand told Sanders. "That was never even in our minds."
"Just four simple words, 'Caution: These windows open,' would have alerted Sam to the danger,'' the family's attorney, Michael Winkleman, said at the press conference Wednesday. "Chloe would still be here today."
Royal Caribbean issued a statement about the lawsuit.
"Our hearts go out to the family for their tragic loss,'' the company said. "Mr. Salvatore Anello is currently being criminally prosecuted for negligent homicide in the case. We have no comment on the civil filing."
Anello again conveyed his remorse at Wednesday's press conference, which came just two days before what would've been Chloe's second birthday.
"I just want to express how sorry I am any of us had to be here today,'' Anello said.
Prosecutors say they have security video from the cruise ship that shows Chloe's fall. The Wiegands say they haven't seen the video and never want to see it.
They told Sanders their focus now is on healing as a family and preventing other families from experiencing the same loss.
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