Things That Matter

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. 

Credit: @DailyMail / Twitter

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. 

Credit: @WTHRoom / Twitter

“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.

READ: A Taco Truck Apologized For Serving ICE Employees At A Detention Center But Then Walked Back Their Apology

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Who Is Mari Pepin? Everything You Need to Know About the Puerto Rican Beauty Queen and ‘The Bachelor’ Frontrunner

Entertainment

Who Is Mari Pepin? Everything You Need to Know About the Puerto Rican Beauty Queen and ‘The Bachelor’ Frontrunner

As you probably know by now, a new season of the never-ending reality series “The Bachelor” has just started.

And this season is destined to be especially exciting–not just because of the promise of non-stop drama, but because the franchise has finally hired its first Black male lead, Matt James, after 18 years on the air.

And with the first Black “Bachelor” comes the most diverse group of contestants competing for the lead’s heart that they’ve ever had.

And one of the contestants that is capturing the hearts of both fans and Matt James alike is 24-year-old Puerto Rican-born pageant queen Mariela “Mari” Pepin.

On this season’s premiere episode of “The Bachelor”, Mari was immediately clocked by viewers as one of the front runners by the way that Matt reacted to meeting her. The former Wake Forest wide receiver was struck speechless by her beauty and couldn’t keep his eyes off her when she parted ways with him. It was obvious that Mari had made quite the first impression on him.

And because we love to see #representation on screen (and especially on reality TV), we decided to do our due diligence and find out as much as we could about this gorgeous and accomplished Latina. Here’s everything you need to know about Mari Pepin.

She’s Boricua–and proud of it!

Something that immediately endeared Mari to fans was the fact that she is so vocally proud of being Puerto Rican. In her first sit-down conversation with Matt, she opened up about how hard its been for her family to live through the relentless natural disasters that the island is going through.

She’s a military brat.

According to Mari’s personal blog, she spent the first few years of her life in PR before relocating to Germany because of her father’s military career. According to Mari, her unique childhood contributed to her love of traveling as an adult.

She was 2019’s Miss Maryland USA.

According to Mari’s official “Bachelor” bio, she began competing in pageants when she moved to Maryland as a teenager. She won Miss Teen Maryland and then went on to win the title of Miss Maryland. After that, she placed in the Top 10 of the Miss USA competition.

She’s wicked smart.

According to Mari’s LinkedIn page, she has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Towson University and she’s currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Marketing Intelligence from the same institution. It’s safe to say she values education.

She’s multilingual.

Not only does Mari speak both Spanish and English flawlessly, but she’s also fluent in French and American Sign Language.

Based on all this info alone, we can’t wait to see Mari Pepin crush this season of “The Bachelor”. Hopefully, this Boricua beauty will be popping up a lot on our screens for years to come!

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Bad Bunny Talks Depression And Says Sometimes He Still Feels Like The Boy Who Bagged Groceries Back Home

Entertainment

Bad Bunny Talks Depression And Says Sometimes He Still Feels Like The Boy Who Bagged Groceries Back Home

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Bad Bunny is on top of the world. Or, at least, that’s how it appears to all of us on the outside enjoying his record-breaking year. Not only did he release three albums in 2020 but he also landed his debut acting role in the Netflix series Narcos: Mexico and from his Instagram stories, he seems to be in a happy, contentful relationship.

But like so many others, Bad Bunny has his experience with mental health issues, of which he recently opened up about in an interview with El País.

Bad Bunny recently spoke up about his struggle with depression.

Despite his immense success that’s catapulted him to, arguably, the world’s biggest superstar, Bad Bunny admits that sometimes he still feels like the young man who bagged groceries in a supermarket.

The reggaetonero revealed in an interview with El País that right as his career really started to take off, he was not happy. “You asked me before how I hadn’t gone crazy. Well, I think that was the moment that was going to determine if I was going to go crazy or not. From 2016 to 2018 I disappeared, I was stuck in a capsule, without knowing anything. The world saw me, but I was missing,” he said.

Although no doctor diagnosed him, he is sure of what was happening. it only did he feel lost and empty but he had stopped doing many of the things that brought him joy, like watching movies and boxing. Without realizing it, he had also fallen out of contact with much of his family, with whom he was typically very close.

“And that’s when I said: who am I? What’s going on?” he told El País. When he returned home to Puerto Rico from spending time in Argentina, he was able to get back into the right state of mind and remember who he was.

Despite his success, Bad Bunny still worries he’s in financial trouble.

Although today, he is the number one Latin artist on Spotify and the awards for his music keep coming, there are times when Bad Bunny still thinks that he has financial problems.

“Not long ago, I was 100% clear in my head what I have achieved, maybe a year or six months ago; but until then, many times I forgot, I felt that I was the kid from the supermarket. He would happen something and say: “Hell!” And then: “Ah, no, wait, if I have here,” he said, touching his pocket.

Much like Bad Bunny, J Balvin has also been candid about his own mental health struggles.

Bad Bunny is just the most recent to speak to the emotional havoc he experiences despite being a global superstar. And, thankfully, like many other celebrities, he’s been able to find refuge in a reality that allows him to keep his feet on the ground so that he too can enjoy the achievements of his career.

Much like El Conejo, J Balvin is known for the brightness of his style and mentality. But he’s long addressed the importance of caring for one’s mental health. During his Arcoíris Tour, he encouraged people to not be ashamed of seeking professional help, and let the audience know they are not alone.   

“Las enfermedades de salud mental son una realidad. Yo he sufrido de depresión y he sufrido de ansiedad, así que tengo que aceptarlo. Y eso me hace más humano, me hace entender que la vida tiene pruebas,” Balvin said. “Pero si alguien está pasando una situación difícil, no están solos, siempre llega la luz. Tarde o temprano llega la luz.”  

“Mental health illnesses are a reality. I have suffered from depression and anxiety, so I have to accept it. And this makes me more human. It makes me understand that life has challenges,” Balvin said in Spanish. “But if someone is going through a difficult time, they are not alone, light always comes. Sooner or later, the light comes.”  

We need more men like Benito and J Balvin to speak up about their mental health struggles, to help destroy the stigma that exists within our community.

And in the same interview, he also spoke about why he works to elevate the Spanish language.

As for the possibility of singing in English, the answer remains the same: a resounding no.

“You have to break this view that the gringos are Gods…No, papi,” he told El País. And, although he’s collaborated with artists like Drake, Cardi B and Jennifer Lopez, he has always sang in Spanish and with his famous accent.

“I am very proud to reach the level where we are speaking in Spanish, and not only in Spanish, but in the Spanish that we speak in Puerto Rico. Without changing the accent,” he said.

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