Things That Matter

Grandfather Of Toddler Who Fell To Her Death From A Cruise Ship Window Has Been Charged With Homicide

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.

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Make Your Dad Feel Special This Christmas With A Latino-Inspired Gift That Will Speak To His Soul

Culture

Make Your Dad Feel Special This Christmas With A Latino-Inspired Gift That Will Speak To His Soul

mitú

Oh, man. Dads are great, right? They tell all sorts of terrible jokes and they just want the best for you. That’s why when the holidays roll around, you want to make sure they feel loved with super-thoughtful gifts. But it won’t be too hard for you this year, because you’ve landed here! And there happen to be tons of amazing gift ideas for dads literally right below this introduction. So there; have a read. 

‘El Jefe’ hat

This hat says everything your dad wants people to know. Not only is he a boss, but he is also the boss. No one can handle a carne asada like he can and it’s time he gets to brag about it everywhere.

BBQ bundle

I don’t know about your dad, but mine was always in charge of the carne asada. In his mind, no one else can cook a piece of steak as well as he can. So the best grill master in the world deserves the best gift ever, right? Well, look no further! The BBQ Bundle comes with this El Jefe Apron and a bottle of El Machete Hot Sauce so he can be ready to cook up some carne asada in style.

‘Annoyed in Spanish’ Dad hat

Having a bilingual dad means he can get annoyed in both English and Spanish (lucky you). We feel his pain, so we made this [Annoyed In Spanish] Dad Hat to wear on the days when he simply can’t with people. Stay strong, dad, we love you.

‘Puro Pinche Pari’ Tote

This isn’t just a tote bag, it’s a statement piece. If your dad is a bit of a social butterfly and always has a carne asada to attend to, get him ready for any party with the ‘Puro Pinche Pari’ Tote, and ¡salud! Not to mention, you should make him become a little more green with his own reusable bag.

‘Mi Gente Colombia’ tee

Your dad’s heart belongs to his family, his mother, and his homeland. Help him rep his pride for his country with this ‘Mi Gente Colombia’ Tee, and show the world you’ll never forget where you came from. Don’t worry. If you check out the mitú shop, you can check out all of the different countries that would be perfect for your dad.

‘Papi Chulo’ Hat

Your papi chulo is your ride or die who deserves only the best in this world. Show him how much he really means to you with this Papi Chulo Hat.

‘Pupusas & Curtido’ T-shirt

Pupusas & Curtido built your dad’s Salvadoran body and he must tell it to the world, wearing this amazing shirt. Truly one piece of clothing your father will love. Check out the mitú shop if your dad’s body was built on different foods.

‘Sweat now, tacos later’ water bottle

For the fit dad type, or if he’s just thinking of starting the year with a renewed sense of health and wellness, help him out with this little bottle. The more he works out now, the more tacos he’ll be able to eat later, right? Don’t lose sight of your fitness and goals with the ‘Sweat Now Tacos Later Water’ Bottle, papi.

‘Arepa money’ belt bag

Need something to hold all that hard-earned arepa money of his? Well, look no further. This Arepa Money Fanny Pack is perfect for holding cash, arepas, and whatever else your dad might need!

‘Avo Camo’ Sweatshirt

What’s more dad-like than a camo print? We’ll tell you what would make it better, hidden guacardos in the print, for the avocado obsessed dads out there. Each unique, all-over printed sweatshirt is precision-cut and hand-sewn to achieve the best possible look and bring out the intricate design. What’s more, the durable fabric with a cotton-feel face and soft brushed fleece inside means that this sweatshirt is bound to become his favorite for a long time.

‘Pregúntale a tu Mamá’ t-shirt

Your dad might be the man of the house, but everyone knows your mom is the one who makes all the rules. That’s why we made this Pregúntale A Tu Mamá Tee, which is basically your childhood in wearable form.

‘Back To The Taqueria’ Tee

Where we’re going, we don’t need fork because we’re going back to the taqueria! But we recommend you grab this apron before we sell out.

‘Modelo’ Men’s socks

Wear and drink what you like, it’s that simple. If your dad is a beer enthusiast who enjoys his modelo bien fría, gift him something he’ll like wearing too, like a matching set of socks.

READ: These 13 Latina-Inspired Gifts Will Make Your Mom Feel So Seen This Holiday Season

House Democrats Are Demanding Answers About Why The Government Is Withholding Aid For Puerto Rico

Things That Matter

House Democrats Are Demanding Answers About Why The Government Is Withholding Aid For Puerto Rico

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The recovery process in Puerto Rico post-Hurricane Maria has been exponentially slowed down by a lack of adequate help from the Trump administration. If there was any more proof of that, it came last week as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Department held up $18 billion in aid that was designated for disaster relief in Puerto Rico.

The mandated deadline for those funds came back on Oct. 4 but no money was ever released. Ninety days later, Democratic lawmakers are looking for answers as to why Puerto Rico has been left in the dark here as recovery efforts continue more than two years after Maria hit the island. Even though HUD employees have testified that they know withholding this aid is illegal, they are continuing to withhold it. 

Recovery aid is needed in Puerto Rico now more than ever but as of now, it’s being withheld due to the Trump administration’s fears that it will be put in corrupt hands. 

Back in September, Congress had asked the agency to publish funding notices to 18 disaster-stricken states and territories. Seventeen were published with Puerto Rico being the lone exception. The funding notice was supposed to be $10.2 billion in aid to help build much-needed infrastructure reinforcement in anticipation of future storms.  

“This is not meant to be a suggestion, it’s mandated,” Chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, Rep. David Price, D-N.C. told NBC News. “It’s time to release this notice and the longer this goes on, the more one has to wonder about the political influences that might be taking place at the top.”

In total, the agency is holding up $18.5 billion, the largest single amount of disaster aid awarded in the agency’s history. The reasoning behind the delay stems from fears that the money could be in corrupt hands, something that the agency’s secretary Ben Carson and President Trump have previously said

 According to NBC News, Price said the “Trump administration is exaggerating the corruption allegations since the Office of Inspector General didn’t find widespread corruption within Puerto Rico’s housing agency, which would be managing the federal housing aid at stake.”

In a statement to Newsweek, an unnamed HUD spokesperson reiterated Carson and Trump’s belief in the withheld funds being misused. The statement also notes that Puerto Rico has only used a fraction of the already allocated funds available to it already.  

“The Administration has taken historic action to help the people of Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria. Given the Puerto Rican government’s history of financial mismanagement, corruption, and other abuses; we must ensure that any HUD assistance provided helps those on the island who need it the most. This process must be handled in a prudent manner with strong financial controls to mitigate the risk to Federal taxpayers. In addition, it is worth noting that Puerto Rico already has access to $1.5 billion and has so far only spent $5.8 million—less than one percent of those funds.”

Now Congress has a problem on its hands that has many Democrats calling for answers about when this disaster aid will be released, if ever.  

One of the members of Congress leading the charge is chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Rep. Joaquín Castro, D-Texas who told reporters last week that “the Trump administration knowingly broke the law by failing to comply with the deadline to issue a federal notice for over $10 billion in aid to Puerto Rico.”

According to John Hudak, a senior fellow of governance studies at the Brookings Institution told NBC News these types of congressional deadlines do at times get missed but there is also a level of transparency from agencies.  

“When these conversations do not happen, it means that something else is going on and it raises concerns that something improper might be happening,” Hudak said. “Instead, they silently missed the deadline.”

Hudak said that there are a few options that Congress can take to make HUD begin dispersing the disaster aid. The first option being halting the funding that the agency uses every day to operate but there is resistance from some Democrats in going that far right now. There is also the possibility that Congress and the Puerto Rican government could take legal action and sue the agency for basically not doing its job. 

Over 850 organizations as of Saturday had joined members of Congress in calling out the agency for not complying with the law. Many of them have stressed the importance of the aid and how critical that it gets released in a timely manner.

There is increased urgency coming from over 850 various organizations that have joined together with members of Congress in denouncing HUD for its actions. At stake is Puerto Rico, which still has ways to go in terms of full recovery from Hurricane Maria.

“It is outrageous that Secretary Carson continues to withhold critical mitigation funding for Puerto Rico approved by Congress nearly two years ago,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of National Low Income Housing Coalition, one of the 850 organizations that have denounced HUD. “Secretary Carson’s decision to ignore Congress and refuse to release these funds makes it nearly impossible for Puerto Ricans to prepare for future disasters. Congress must hold him accountable – every day of inaction puts American lives at risk.”

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