Chloe Wiegand's grandad pleads guilty in death of toddler who fell 150ft from cruise ship window, avoids jail
A man has pleaded guilty to charges related to the death of his granddaughter who fell 150 ft from the window of a cruise ship last year. The 18-month-old was being watched by her grandfather when she fell out of the window. Salvatore Anello pleaded guilty to negligent homicide in the death of his grandchild, Chloe Wiegand, on Thursday, October 15, as per an NBC report.
Anello was left in charge of watching over his grandchild on July 7 last year when he lifted her up so she could bang on the glass of the window. The child fell through the window opening which could be slid open while the cruise ship had been docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The child fell down 11 decks, which is a height of 150ft from the cruise ship window, and died.
According to South Bend Tribune, Anello had pleaded guilty in San Juan. The family did not want Anello to face any charges and family lawyer Michael Winkleman revealed in a statement that the plea would allow the family to move on, NBC states. Winkleman shared that "it was decided the plea deal is in the best interests of the family so that they can close this horrible chapter..." He added how Anello pleading guilty means that he won't have to face any jail time. Anello's lawyer said that he would be able to serve probation in his home state of Indiana and will be sentenced on December 10.
In December last year, Anello had rejected a plea deal after pleading not guilty in July. However, in February earlier this year, he had written an emotional letter saying that he would do what was necessary in order to put an end to the family's nightmare. He then filed documents that month to change his plea to guilty. In a statement, Anello had said, "I took a plea deal to try to help end part of this nightmare for my family, if possible. The support they continue to give me has been beyond overwhelming and I can’t tell you how grateful I am for them."
The cruise line, Royal Caribbean, has claimed that the tinted handles on the windows would have indicated that it was open. Anello, who says he is colorblind, had not been able to see that the window was open.
The parents of the toddler, Alan, 41, and Kimberly Wiegand, 37, are said to be suing Royal Caribbean for unlimited damages in a separate lawsuit. They have been very supportive of Anello throughout the legal process. Winkleman said in a statement to The South Bend Tribune, "We will continue the fight for justice for Chloe and to hold Royal Caribbean accountable for its brazen failure to follow the standards designed precisely to prevent children from falling out of windows."
Royal Caribbean had released a statement at the time of the tragedy where they expressed their condolences to the family. The cruise line had stated, "We are deeply saddened by yesterday’s tragic incident, and our hearts go out to the family."