Grandfather charged in Indiana toddler's cruise ship death says he watched her fall in utter disbelief: 'I thought there was glass'
18-month-old Chloe Wiegand of Indiana was on a holiday with her parents and grandparents on the Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas when the tragedy occurred.
The grandfather of an Indiana toddler who fell to her death from the 11th deck of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship this past July has spoken out for the first time since prosecutors announced they would be charging him with negligent homicide. MEAWW previously reported that 18-month-old Chloe Wiegand, of Indiana, was on a holiday with her parents and grandparents on the Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas when the tragedy occurred.
The ship had been docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on July 7 and while she was playing on the 11th deck with granddad Salvatore 'Sam' Anello, she fell through an open window onto the concrete pier 150 feet below and died instantly.
Last month, a judge ordered the arrest of Anello after prosecutors presented evidence that they claimed showed the grandfather was guilty of negligent homicide, and he has spoken out for the first time since then in an emotional interview with CBS This Morning.
"I remember trying to find her on the floor and then I saw her fall, I saw her fall, I saw her fall and I was just in disbelief," he said. "And I was like 'Oh my God.' And I think for a while I was in shock and I was just standing there."
"And then I just remember screaming that I thought there was glass," he added, choking back tears. "I thought there was glass. I still say it to myself, it's just, I kind of relive it all the time and I just thought there was glass there. I don't know what else to tell you."
"It seems like it's all not real. She's such a beautiful little girl. Perfect little girl."
Chloe's parents, Kimberly and Alan, have both come out in support of a very "distraught" Anello and said their daughter's death was a "preventable" accident that was not the fault of the grandfather, but the cruise liner.
"He was extremely hysterical," Kimberly had said after the death. "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."
"You can barely look at him without him crying," Alan added. "She was his best friend."
Michael Winkleman, the family's attorney, has slammed the Puerto Rican prosecutors and said the charges were like "pouring salt on the open wounds of this grieving family."
"Clearly, this was a tragic accident and the family’s singular goal remains for something like this to never happen again," he said. "Had the cruise lines simply followed proper safety guidelines for windows, this accident likely would never have happened."