An American toddler fell to her death on Sunday from the deck of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico, a spokesman for the local Port Authority said.
The 18-month-old girl was playing with her grandfather in a dining hall on deck 11 of the Freedom of the Seas, Port Authority spokesman José Carmona said. The dining area has large windows, and one pane was open.
The grandfather sat the girl in the window and lost his balance, and the girl fell to her death. “Sadly, she died on impact,” Carmona said.
The toddler’s father is a police officer in South Bend, Indiana, according to the South Bend Police Department. The department tweeted “its sincerest condolences” to the officer and his family “during this difficult time following the tragic loss of their child while in Puerto Rico.” The department also asked the community to pray for and to respect the privacy of the entire family.
The girl had traveled to San Juan from the mainland with her parents, siblings and four grandparents. They had recently boarded the ship, which can carry more than 4,500 passengers, including crew.
The ship was scheduled to depart for a weeklong voyage at 8:30 p.m. Sunday; the fall happened about 5 p.m., according to Carmona.
“We are deeply saddened by yesterday’s tragic incident, and our hearts go out to the family,” Royal Caribbean Cruises 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.”
Local police are still investigating the incident, which preliminarily has been determined to be an accident, Carmona said. The girl’s body was taken to a forensic unit in San Juan.
Falls from cruise ships are not unheard-of. On Thursday, a Carnival Victory crew member was seen falling overboard about 30 miles northwest of Cuba.
The US Coast Guard searched for the 37-year-old man but failed to find him after more than 45 hours and so suspended the effort.
The Coast Guard does not estimate the total number of falls from ship decks each year, spokesman Jonathan Lally said. Still, “every cruise ship has a safety plan,” and “they are required to give a safety brief,” he said. The Coast Guard “strongly advises” passengers who board ships to follow all safety rules and plans.