Indiana toddler cruise ship death: Grandfather who dropped 18-month-old girl from 11th deck charged with homicide
A judge ordered the arrest of Salvatore Anello after prosecutors submitted evidence and said the little girl fell when he raised her up to an open window.
The grandfather of an 18-month-old child who died after falling off a window in a cruise ship has been charged with negligent homicide. Salvatore 'Sam' Anello's granddaughter Chloe Wiegand had plummeted down from the 11th deck of the Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas cruise liner and hit the concrete after the Anello had held her up to what he called a "wall of windows" to let her bang on the glass. While the window was assumed to be closed, it had been open and he had no idea, he said. The incident took place in the children's play area, while the ship was docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
A judge on Monday ordered the arrest of Anello after prosecutors submitted evidence. His bail has been set to $80,000 and he is scheduled to appear in court for a hearing on November 20. In his testimony, Anello said that he had picked her up thinking the glass would be there to support her. Because the glass was meant to be clear, he didn't see that it wasn't there at all.
The family too has said that it was a "preventable" incident and does not blame the grandpa but the cruise liner. "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," mom Kimberly had said during an interview with Today in July, when the incident had occurred, "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 grandpa too had been very "distraught", the parents had said. "He was extremely hysterical. The thing he repeatedly told us was, I believed there was glass. He would cry, over and over," Kimberly said, "At no point ever, ever, has Sam put our kids in any danger." The father Alan, added, "You can barely look at him without him crying. She was his best friend."
According to Buzzfeed News, the arrest and charges on the grandfather were like "pouring salt on the open wounds of this grieving family." Michael Winkleman, the family's lawyer said, "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."
Winkleman said that the family had plans to sue Royal Caribbean. The cruise liner had said that the window had been open for "ventilation".