Grandad of cruise plunge toddler who died after slipping from his arms arrives back in US after ‘failing to give witness statement’

THE grandad of a toddler who plunged to her death from a cruise ship after slipping from his arms landed back in the US last night.

Devastated Salvatore ‘Sam’ Anello reportedly refused to give a witness statement to investigators in Puerto Rico following the tragedy on Sunday.

Salvatore ‘Sam’ Anello arrived back in the US last night after declining to give a police statement on his lawyer’s advice
The windows on the Royal Caribbean cruise slide open with a handle – allowing Chloe to fall out

Grieving Mr Anello was advised by his lawyer not to provide an official statement to investigators over fears he could be charged over the death of little Chloe Weigand, DailyMail.com reported.

The 18-month-old had been playing with her doting grandad in the “kid’s water zone” on the ship as it was docked in Puerto Rico.

She then asked him to lift her to a wall of windows lining the play area, her family have said.

But tragically, Chloe fell from the 11th floor window and landed 150ft below on the concrete dock.

‘THOUGHT THERE WOULD BE GLASS’

Family lawyer Michael Winkleman said that Mr Anello “thought there was glass just like everywhere else –  but there was not, and she was gone in an instant.”

Detectives in Puerto Rico have made no arrests – so there was nothing stopping the family travelling home once Chloe’s body was released to them on Wednesday for repatriation.

Last night, a drained Mr Anello and his wife Patricia landed at Chicago O’Hare Airport looking anguished, DailyMail.com reported.

Chloe’s devastated dad Alan Weigand, 40, and mum Kimberly, 36, flew back to the US on a different flight.

A hearse and a police escort were due to meet South Bend cop Alan and attorney Patricia to escort Chloe’s body home to Granger, Indiana.

DECLINED TO SEE FOOTAGE

Earlier, the distraught couple declined the offer to look at high-quality CCTV footage of Chloe’s tragic final moments because it would be too painful to watch.

The family have supported Mr Anello and released a picture of Chloe leaning on a see-through barrier at a hockey rink.

They said she would bang on the glass at her older brother’s hockey games – and that could explain why she fell through the window.

The Weigands have instead pinned blame for the tragedy on The Royal Caribbean cruise line – maintaining the open glass pane should have been closed securely.

Doting grandad Salvatore Anello is pictured holding Chloe Wiegand before her tragic death
The little girl loved to bang on the glass at her brother's ice hockey games
The little girl loved to bang on the glass at her brother’s ice hockey games
NBC
Tragic Chloe fell 150ft to her death from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship
The open window can be seen as cops examine the scene on board the cruise ship
Enterprise News and Pictures

QUESTIONS OVER WINDOW

Lawyer Mr Winkleman said the grieving family wants to know why a window that “should have been closed securely” was open.

He added: “The family needs answers as to why there would be an open window in a wall full of fixed windows in a kids’ play area?

“Why would you have the danger without any warning, sign, or notice?

“Essentially her grandfather lifts her up and puts her on a railing and where he thinks that there is glass there because it’s clear, but it turns out there was no glass there.

“She goes to bang on the glass like she would have at one of those hockey rinks, and the next thing you know, she’s gone.”

We heard the screams of the families because we were close. A cry of pain of that nature does not compare with any other cry

Witness

He added: “Why in the world would you leave a window open in an entire glass wall full of windows in a kid’s area?”

Mr Anello and several other family members were so hysterical after the child’s tragic death plunge that they had to be sedated by medics, according to local news site El Vocero.

One passenger told Telemundo PR: “We heard the screams of the families because we were close.

“A cry of pain of that nature does not compare with any other cry.”

A spokesperson for Royal Caribbean told The Sun Online: “We are deeply saddened by yesterday’s tragic incident, and our hearts go out to the family.

“We’ve made our Care Team available to assist the family with any resources they need.

“Out of respect for their privacy, we do not plan to comment further on the incident.”

Family members were heard screaming in agony after watching little Chloe fall
Chloe Wiegand pictured with her mum before the toddler’s tragic death
It is believed the girl's grandad sat her on a railing next to the windows on the 11th floor
It is believed the girl’s grandad sat her on a railing next to the windows on the 11th floor
Enterprise News and Pictures
Chloe Weigand fell to her death as the cruise ship was docked in Puerto Rico on Sunday


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