Grandfather Charged in Death of Toddler Who Fell to Her Death From Cruise Ship Window

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
October 29, 2019US News
Grandfather Charged in Death of Toddler Who Fell to Her Death From Cruise Ship Window
Salvatore "Sal" Anello and his granddaughter Chloe Wiegand. (Courtesy of the Wiegand Family)

The grandfather of a toddler who fell to her death on a cruise ship in July has been charged with negligent homicide in her death, Puerto Rican authorities said.

Salvatore “Sal” Anello was playing with the girl, Chloe Wiegand, on the 11th floor near a window while the ship was docked in Puerto Rico.

An attorney for the Indiana family has said Anello sat the girl on rails near the open window, thinking it was closed.

Prosecutors allege that Anello “negligently exposed [his granddaughter] through one of the windows,” according to a statement from the Puerto Rican Department of Justice.

The San Juan judge “found cause for arrest against the accused, and imposed a bail of $80,000,” the governor’s office said.

Chloe Wiegand
18-month-old Chloe Wiegand. (Courtesy of the Wiegand Family)

Chloe’s parents blamed the cruise line company, Royal Caribbean, after the accident, saying the window shouldn’t have been open.

Michael Winkleman, an attorney representing the family in a civil suit he’s preparing against Royal Caribbean said: “I think Royal Caribbean needs to answer these questions: Why would you ever in a kid’s play area put windows that passengers can open? I mean, we’ve all had that experience where someone walks into a glass sliding door thinking it’s not there.”

“This is the inverse of that. It was reasonable for Sam the grandfather to think that this was all glass because from his perspective, it was all glass,” he added

The criminal charges are “pouring salt on the open wounds of this grieving family,” Winkleman said.

“Clearly this was a tragic accident and the family’s singular goal remains for something like this to never happen again,” Winkleman said in a statement. “Had the cruise lines simply followed proper safety guidelines for windows, this accident likely would never have happened.”

A Royal Caribbean cruise is seen docked at Havana's port
A Royal Caribbean cruise is seen docked at Havana’s port on May 6, 2019. (Yamil Lage/AFP/Getty Images)

It was not clear Monday night whether Anello had a criminal defense attorney.

The details of the toddler’s death have been disputed since the accident. Port Authority officials said Anello sat the girl in the window and lost his balance, and the girl fell to her death.

Winkleman told media that the toddler loved glass and windows, and her grandfather had placed her on a ledge by a glass wall, but had no idea one window within the wall was open.

“Chloe wanted to bang on the glass like she always did at her older brothers’ hockey games,” Winkleman said. “Her grandfather thought there was glass just like everywhere else, but there was not, and she was gone in an instant.”

18-month-old Chloe, who fell to her death from the window of a cruise ship docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico in July, 2019. (Courtesy of the Wiegand Family)

Royal Caribbean “has still not given us the opportunity to view surveillance video they have of the incident,” the attorney said.

Royal Caribbean said after the incident that it was “deeply saddened” by it, and that it had “assisted the authorities in San Juan with their inquiries.”

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Nov. 20.

Epoch Times reporter Isabel van Brugen and The CNN Wire contributed to this report.