Grandad of toddler who died after falling from cruise ship window is charged

Chloe Wiegand tragically died after falling from a cruise ship window in July. Source: Today (via 7 News).

The grandad of a toddler who tragically died after falling from a cruise ship window has been charged with negligent manslaughter.

Salvatore Anello is accused of dropping his 18-month-old granddaughter Chloe Wiegand 150ft from a cruise ship window. The Royal Caribbean’s Freedom Of The Seas ship was docked in San Juan when Chloe fell from the 11th floor on July 7.

Now, according to AP, Puerto Rico’s Justice Department has filed charges against Anello. He is being held on an US$80,000 (AU $117K) bond and is scheduled to appear in court on November 20.

According to the news agency, a judge ordered his arrest after prosecutors submitted evidence claiming Chloe fell when Anello raised her up to an open window. He allegedly placed her on a railing near a children’s play area believing there was glass behind it. An attorney for the family has claimed he now blames the cruise ship company for leaving the window open without warning.

“He was extremely hysterical,” Chloe’s mother Kimberly previously told US Today show. “The thing that he has repeatedly told us is, ‘I believed that there was glass’. He will cry over and over and over. At no point ever, ever has Sal ever put our kids in danger.”

Chloe’s parents, from Indiana, US, have remained supportive of Anello throughout, claiming he allegedly lifted Chloe up because she liked to bang on glass. They previously released a photo of her doing the same at an ice hockey game.

“There’s no doubt this was an accident,” the family’s attorney, Mike Winkleman, told Today previously. “Really the singular question is, were there safety measures that could have been in place and should have been in place? If they were in place, again, there would have been no tragedy.”

Royal Caribbean responded to the parents’ interview on Today at the time, saying in a statement: “We are deeply saddened by this incident, and our hearts go out to the family. We have assisted the authorities in San Juan with their inquiries, and they are the appropriate people to address further questions.”

Recalling the moment she first discovered the horrific news of her daughter’s death, a tearful Kimberly said on the program: “I didn’t know that she went out a window… 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.”

In a particularly heartbreaking moment in the interview, Kimberly recalled: “There was one point where my son said, ‘Mom, I wish I would’ve been standing there because I would’ve jumped, and I would’ve saved her’. That tore me because I know that he believes that. And to know he’s living with that, it’s just so hard.”

“It’s really easy to shut out the world and to give up, but we will not do that because that’s not who Chloe was,” Kimberly added. “Chloe was the light, and that’s what is going to get us through every single day. We have to go on for her. We can’t give up.”

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