A grandfather who allegedly dropped his 18-month-old granddaughter from the 11th floor of a cruise ship docked in Puerto Rico in July has been charged with negligent homicide.
Salvatore ‘Sam’ Anello, had held the 18-month-old up to what he called a ‘wall of windows’ to allow her to bang on the glass, something she loved to do at home.
They were on the 11th floor of the cruise ship in a children’s play area.
The window he held her up to, however, had been slid open and he was unaware.
She went straight through it, falling onto the dock below and letting out a ‘blood curdling’ scream on the way.
A judge on Monday ordered the arrest of Salvatore Anello after prosecutors submitted evidence and said granddaughter Chloe Wiegand fell when he raised her up to an open window.
Salvatore Anello (left) has been charged over the death of his granddaughter Chloe Wiegand (right), who fell when he raised her up to an open window
An attorney for the family has said Chloe asked her grandfather to lift her up so she could bang on the glass in a children’s play area
An attorney for the family has said Chloe asked her grandfather to lift her up so she could bang on the glass in a children’s play area.
He blamed the cruise ship company for leaving the window inexplicably open.
The family is from Indiana and was aboard Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas.
Days after the accident, her father Alan and mother Kimberly, from Southbend, Indiana, told the Today show that they do not blame Anello for Chloe’s death.
They also slammed the cruise liner, and said their explanation for the open window – that it was open for ‘ventilation’ – is not good enough.
Kimberly revealed that when she was first told something had happened to Chloe, she was unaware that she’d gone through the window and ran up to it, demanding to know where her baby was, then looked outside and saw the concrete she fell onto.
‘When they told me Chloe had died, I didn’t know she went out a window. I just saw Sam standing next to the wall of windows, screaming and banging on it and there was like somebody trying to stop me.
‘I just kept saying, “Take me to my baby. Where is my baby?”
‘I didn’t know she had gone out the window. Then I looked over, and it wasn’t water beneath, it was concrete. To lose our baby this way is just unfathomable.
‘I never want another mother to have to experience what I had to, to see what I had to see or scream or how I had to scream,’ she said.
The parents do not blame Anello for their daughter’s death and say he is still distraught.
Anello is being held on $80,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in court on November 20
Chloe plummeted 150ft from the 11th floor of the ship onto a concrete dock beneath it
The open window is shown in an exterior image taken after the accident. The family have previously said her grandfather simply did not realize it was open when he propped her up
Anello said he took his granddaughter over to the windows because she loved banging on the glass at her brother’s ice hockey games in Indiana (seen left). He thought she would like to bang on the cruise ship windows too but ‘before he knew it, she was gone’
‘He was extremely hysterical. The thing he repeatedly told us was, I believed there was glass. He would cry, over and over.
‘At no point ever, ever, has Sam put our kids in any danger,’ Kimberly said.
Alan added: ‘He was very, very distraught.
‘You can barely look at him without him crying. She was his best friend.’
The family is now planning to take legal action against Royal Caribbean which they say they ‘obviously’ blame for Chloe’s death.
‘We obviously blame them. There are a million things that could have been done to make that safer.
‘Why on earth is a window open on the 11th floor without a screen or anything? Their answer was “we need ventilation.”
‘Well to that I say, get a fan,’ Kimberly said.
The window on the far left is the one Chloe fell through while being held by her grandfather. The others appear to have handles which allow them to be slid open This photograph was taken by Chloe’s father after the accident
Choking on tears as she described her grief, she said that she wakes up every day forgetting what has happened for around 30 seconds before the sadness hits her again.
‘The first 30 seconds of the day, I don’t remember what happened and then it comes back and I relive what happened. The thing I latch on to is her memory, she just exuded love.
‘She loved watching her brother play hockey, she loved gardening with me. She could get anyone to smile.
‘I just know that she was destined to do such great things, even in her short life I truly believe she changes so many lives,’ she said.
Her father added: ‘We’ll never forget her. She is part of our soul.’
When Chloe’s older brother learned that she had died, he told his parents he wished he had been standing next to her because he would have jumped out to save her, they said.
This was the scene on the 11th deck after the acciden. It was taped off for police to investigate
‘I know he believes that. To know he’s living that….’ Kimberly trailed off.
In photos shared with DailyMail.com, the 11th floor window can be seen next to others that are closed. They were taken by Chloe’s cop father after she had fallen.
Describing what happened at a press conference in Miami, the family’s lawyer Michael Winkleman said Chloe and her grandfather were playing in the area when he saw the windows and decided to take her over to them.
‘The grandfather is with Chloe, they’re playing and there’s this wall of all windows, it’s all glass windows.
‘Chloe used to love to bang on the glass at her brother’s ice hockey games, so her grandfather takes her over to the windows, he thinks it’s all glass.
‘There’s a wood railing along there, he puts her on that thinking she’s going to bang on the glass and it’s going to be great, and the next thing he knows, she’s gone,’ he said.
He did not say why Anello thought it was open but said: ‘He literally thought it was all glass. Clearly, he was wrong.’
Asked if the grandfather had been drinking, he added: ‘There was absolutely no alcohol involved, Sam is not a drinker.’
Freedom of the Seas cruise ship started its journey at San Juan in Puerto Rico. It moved on, without the Wiegand family
Winkleman called it a ‘preventable tragedy’ and said the window should never have been open so high up.
‘What was preventable here was really, why would you ever put windows that passengers could open.
‘It was reasonable for him to think this was all glass.
‘From his perspective it was all glass,’ he added.
Chloe was with her parents, older brother and grandparents on the week-long Caribbean cruise.
Her father is a cop from South Bend, Indiana. It was their first night on the ship.
Royal Caribbean said after the accident that they were ‘deeply saddened’ by the accident.
Anello is being held on $80,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in court on November 20.