Grandfather who dropped his toddler granddaughter to her death on cruise ship avoids jail

A grandfather who pleaded guilty to negligent homicide in the fall of his young granddaughter from an 11th-story window of a cruise ship has avoided jail. 

Salvatore ‘Sam’ Anello, of Valparaiso, Indiana, was sentenced Monday to three years´ probation, according to justice officials, following the death of Chloe Wiegand. 

Anello was aboard the Royal Caribbean Cruises´ Freedom of the Seas ship with family in July 2019 when it was docked in Puerto Rico. 

He has said he did not know the window in the children´s play area was open and that he lifted 18-month-old Chloe up before she fell so she could knock on the glass as she had done at her brother´s hockey games.

Anello pleaded guilty in the case in October 2020. Defense attorney Michael Winkleman has said Anello would serve probation in his home state. 

The girl´s parents, Alan and Kimberly Wiegand, sued Royal Caribbean in a civil case that is still ongoing. 

Anello told DailyMail.com he felt a ‘mixture of anger and relief’ following the sentencing, adding: ‘I always thought this was a wall of glass.’

Salvatore ‘Sam’ Anello is to admit to negligent homicide over the death of toddler Chloe Wiegand

Chloe Wiegand fell to her death from the 11th deck of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship after her grandfather held her up to an open window

IT worker Anello has consistently protested his innocence over 18-month-old Chloe’s fatal plunge from the 11th deck of the Freedom of the Seas. 

He said Monday: ‘[I feel] relief that I will serve no jail time and that I did not have to admit any facts. Relief for my family so that we can close this chapter and move on together.

‘I feel angry at Royal Caribbean because it is clear that these windows never should have been allowed to have been opened in the first place.

‘I always thought this was a wall of glass. There was no indication to me that some of the glass panels in this wall of glass could even open. 

‘I decided not to contest these charges, even though I know I committed no crime, because I would not have to admit any facts or suffer any significant penalty. 

‘It was a choice of focusing our resources and deciding the best path to tell Chloe’s story and devote our family’s energy was in the civil case. I miss you so much Chloe.’ 

Explaining his decision to plead guilty to negligent homicide attorney Winkleman said in February last year: ‘This decision was an incredibly difficult one for Sam and the family but because the plea agreement includes no jail time and no admission of facts.

‘It was decided the plea deal is in the best interests of the family so that they can close this horrible chapter and turn their focus to mourning Chloe and fighting for cruise passenger safety by raising awareness about the need for all common carriers to adhere to window fall prevention laws designed to protect children from falling from windows.’ 

Negligent homicide can be punished with a three-year prison sentence under the Puerto Rican criminal code. 

Anello said he did not know the window in the children´s play area was open and that he lifted 18-month-old Chloe up to it so she could knock on the glass

Anello said he did not know the window in the children´s play area was open and that he lifted 18-month-old Chloe up to it so she could knock on the glass

Anello said he did not know the window in the children´s play area was open and that he lifted 18-month-old Chloe up to it so she could knock on the glass

Chloe¿s parents Alan and Kimberly Wiegand, from South Bend, Indiana are suing the cruise operator in a separate civil lawsuit, arguing there were no signs or notices to warn Anello that the 'wall of glass' he held Chloe up against contained windows that could be slid open

Chloe¿s parents Alan and Kimberly Wiegand, from South Bend, Indiana are suing the cruise operator in a separate civil lawsuit, arguing there were no signs or notices to warn Anello that the 'wall of glass' he held Chloe up against contained windows that could be slid open

 Chloe’s parents Alan and Kimberly Wiegand, from South Bend, Indiana are suing the cruise operator in a separate civil lawsuit, arguing there were no signs or notices to warn Anello that the ‘wall of glass’ he held Chloe up against contained windows that could be slid open

Haunting on-board camera footage of the incident shows Anello alone on deck with Chloe, who leads her grandfather away from the H20 zone splash pool towards the glass sides of the ship. He lifts the toddler up and sits her down on a wooden handrail but suddenly she tumbles forwards and disappears from view

Haunting on-board camera footage of the incident shows Anello alone on deck with Chloe, who leads her grandfather away from the H20 zone splash pool towards the glass sides of the ship. He lifts the toddler up and sits her down on a wooden handrail but suddenly she tumbles forwards and disappears from view

Haunting on-board camera footage of the incident shows Anello alone on deck with Chloe, who leads her grandfather away from the H20 zone splash pool towards the glass sides of the ship. He lifts the toddler up and sits her down on a wooden handrail but suddenly she tumbles forwards and disappears from view

Chloe’s parents Alan and Kimberly Wiegand, from South Bend, Indiana are suing the cruise operator in a separate civil lawsuit, arguing there were no signs or notices to warn Anello that the ‘wall of glass’ he held Chloe up against contained windows that could be slid open.

When the grandpa lifted the little girl up to let her bang on the glass as she loved to do at her brother’s ice hockey games, Chloe tumbled overboard and died instantly as she landed 150ft below on the Pan American Pier 2.

Despite the windows having handles and a blue-green tint, the suit says it was harder for Anello to distinguish between a glass pane and thin air because he is color blind.

The girl´s parents, Alan and Kimberly Wiegand, sued Royal Caribbean in a civil case that is still ongoing

The girl´s parents, Alan and Kimberly Wiegand, sued Royal Caribbean in a civil case that is still ongoing

The girl´s parents, Alan and Kimberly Wiegand, sued Royal Caribbean in a civil case that is still ongoing

Police officer Alan, 41, and his attorney wife Kimberly, 37, could claim ‘unlimited’ damages for pain and mental suffering if their suit, filed in Miami federal court, succeeds.

However they say their sole motivation is to force Royal Caribbean to make their windows safer on the Freedom of the Seas so Chloe’s horror plunge is never repeated.

Royal Caribbean has tried unsuccessfully to have the case thrown out, presenting harrowing video footage of Chloe’s last moments to argue that Anello poked his head through the window and ‘unquestionably’ knew it was open.

The company denies breaching industry safety standards, insisting Anello would only have had to rely on his ‘basic senses’ to realize he was endangering his beloved granddaughter. 

Chloe and her granddad were about to embark on a seven-night Caribbean cruise with her parents, older brother, fraternal grandparents and Anello’s wife Patricia, when the tragedy unfolded. 

Chloe and her granddad were about to embark on a seven-night Caribbean cruise with her parents, older brother, fraternal grandparents and Anello¿s wife Patricia, when the tragedy unfolded

Chloe and her granddad were about to embark on a seven-night Caribbean cruise with her parents, older brother, fraternal grandparents and Anello¿s wife Patricia, when the tragedy unfolded

Chloe and her granddad were about to embark on a seven-night Caribbean cruise with her parents, older brother, fraternal grandparents and Anello’s wife Patricia, when the tragedy unfolded

Anello said: ¿Chloe being gone is the worst thing ever so I'm like, whatever, you know. There's nothing worse that they could do to me than what's already happened'

Anello said: ¿Chloe being gone is the worst thing ever so I'm like, whatever, you know. There's nothing worse that they could do to me than what's already happened'

Anello said: ‘Chloe being gone is the worst thing ever so I’m like, whatever, you know. There’s nothing worse that they could do to me than what’s already happened’

IT worker Anello has consistently protested his innocence over 18-month-old Chloe¿s fatal plunge from the 11th deck of the Freedom of the Seas

IT worker Anello has consistently protested his innocence over 18-month-old Chloe¿s fatal plunge from the 11th deck of the Freedom of the Seas

 IT worker Anello has consistently protested his innocence over 18-month-old Chloe’s fatal plunge from the 11th deck of the Freedom of the Seas

Their vacation was supposed to take in the sun-drenched sights of San Juan, St Maarten, St Kitts, Antigua, St Lucia and Barbados but it ended in horror before the $800m vessel had even set sail.

Haunting on-board camera footage of the incident shows Anello alone on deck with Chloe, who leads her grandfather away from the H20 zone splash pool towards the glass sides of the ship.

He lifts the toddler up and sits her down on a wooden handrail but suddenly she tumbles forwards and disappears from view.

‘All I know is I was trying to reach the glass and I know that we leaned over to try to have her reach the glass, at that point she slipped,’ Anello said in an interview with CBS. ‘Chloe being gone is the worst thing ever so I’m like, whatever, you know. There’s nothing worse that they could do to me than what’s already happened.’

Salvatore Anello and his wife Patricia arrive at Chicago airport following Chloe's tragic death

Salvatore Anello and his wife Patricia arrive at Chicago airport following Chloe's tragic death

Salvatore Anello and his wife Patricia arrive at Chicago airport following Chloe’s tragic death

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