Grandfather Of Toddler Who Died Of Fall From Cruise Ship Pleads Guilty
Update: October 16, 2020
The grandfather of the toddler who fell from a cruise ship window in Puerto Rico has pleaded guilty. The tragic accident happened in 2019 when the family took a vacation to Puerto Rico. The grandfather tried to show his granddaughter the island from a window but didn’t know it was open.
Salvatore Anello pleaded guilty to negligent homicide after his granddaughter fell from a cruise ship window.
Anello will not serve any jail time as part of a plea deal. Instead, the man has been sentenced to probation in Indiana. According to the family’s attorney, the decision was not an easy one but had to be done to close the chapter. The family has been in legal battles for more than a year as the case worked its way through the court.
“This decision was an incredibly difficult one for Sam and the family, but because the plea agreement includes no jail time and no admission of facts, it was decided the plea deal is in the best interests of the family so that they can close this horrible chapter and turn their focus to mourning Chloe and fighting for cruise passenger safety,” the family’s attorney said, according to CBS News.
Original: There are new charges being brought against the grandfather of a 1-year-old girl who fell to her death from an 11th story window on a cruise ship this past July. Authorities are charging Salvatore Anello with negligent homicide after prosecutors argued that his granddaughter, Chloe Wiegand, 18 months, fell and died after he lifted her up to an open window on the cruise ship. Anello says he thought that the window was closed when he lifted her next to the window but instead she fell 11 stories onto the concrete below on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship that was docked in San Juan back on July 7.
Salvatore Anello is facing three years in prison for the death of 1-year-old Wiegand after Puerto Rico’s Justice Department ordered his arrest this past Monday. They argue that he negligently exposed his granddaughter to the open window.
Wiegand was on vacation with her dad, a South Bend, Indiana, police officer, her mother, siblings and both sets of grandparents on the Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas cruise ship. The family has been crushed by the news and at this time has stood by Anello’s story that he didn’t know that the window was open. According to the family, he often held up his granddaughter next to the glass at her older brother’s hockey game so she could bang on it.
“Chloe wanted to bang on the glass like she always did at her older brothers’ hockey games,” Michael Winkleman, an attorney for Wiegand’s parents said in a July statement. “Her grandfather thought there was glass just like everywhere else, but there was not, and she was gone in an instant.”
Winkleman told NBC News that the new charges being put forward have only made the situation worse. He describes the morale within the family as “fractured” after Anello’s arrest.
“The family is crushed. Utterly crushed,” Winkleman said. “I think they were doing their best to really start the process of grieving for the months since the incident since the tragedy happened and I think they were really doing their best to keep it together for their 11-year-old son.”
The grandfather has vehemently denied any and all accusations of wrongdoing to his granddaughter. The family lawyer has called for more warnings or even a sign to notify people of the open window near the play area.
“I think the critical problem there was that there are strict safety regulations that are in place that are literally designed to protect against exactly that incident, which is a toddler falling through an open glass window,” Winkleman said. “Those are primarily, you could have a screen, you could have some type of grid. Or more importantly, windows in that type of a situation aren’t even supposed to open more than 4 inches.”
While video evidence has yet to be seen by the family, they are holding Royal Caribbean responsible for their daughter’s death. Winkleman told NBC News on Tuesday that the family has no reason to not believe Anello’s story. Winklemam says that the family intends to pursue a lawsuit against the cruise line.
“We know what Sam’s version of the events were, and I have no reason to doubt what he said,” Winkleman said. “Having said that, a picture is worth a thousand words and a video is worth 10,000 words.”
Kimberly, the girl’s mother, previously told NBC’s “Today” that “I never want another mother to have to experience this or to see what I had to see or to scream how I had to scream.”
“I didn’t know that she went out a window,” Kimberley said. “And I just kept saying, ‘Take me to my baby. Where’s my baby?’ I didn’t even notice a window. I ran over there and I looked over and it wasn’t water down there, it was concrete. To lose our baby this way is just unfathomable.”
Royal Caribbean released a statement Tuesday that Weigand’s death was a “tragic incident” and is referring questions over to authorities “out of respect for the family’s privacy.”
Anello is being held on an $80,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in court on November 20.
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