Grandfather Charged in Toddler’s Fatal Fall From Cruise Ship


Via: The New York Times
By Sandra E. Garcia

The New York Times – Salvatore Anello, who dropped his granddaughter from a cruise ship window in July, was charged with negligent homicide in Puerto Rico.

Chloe Wiegand fell over 100 feet from an 11th-floor cruise ship window as her grandfather held her up to play.

The grandfather of a child who fell to her death as he held her near a window on a cruise ship has been charged with negligent homicide, the Puerto Rico Department of Justice announced on Monday.

On July 7, the man, Salvatore Anello, dropped his 19-month-old granddaughter, Chloe Wiegand, from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship as it was docked in San Juan, the authorities said.

Mr. Anello, 51, “negligently exposed the child to the abyss through a window on the 11th floor of the cruise ship,” Dennise N. Longo Quiñones, the Puerto Rico attorney general, and other officials said in a statement. The child fell 115 feet off the cruise ship, called Freedom of the Seas.

“This was a tragic incident,” Royal Caribbean said in an email on Tuesday, referring additional questions to the authorities out of respect for the family’s privacy.

On Monday, Judge Jimmy Sepulveda of the San Juan Investigation Court set bail at $80,000 for Mr. Anello, who was charged with one count of negligent homicide. Mr. Anello, who lives in Indiana, was in the courtroom and posted bond, according to Michael Winkleman, a lawyer for the child’s parents. He is expected back in Puerto Rico for a preliminary hearing on Nov. 20.

The girl’s parents, Alan and Kimberly Wiegand, were trying to put their lives together after their daughter’s death and “the charges just shattered it,” Mr. Winkleman said in an interview on Tuesday.

“They are trying to keep it together for their 11-year-old son, and these charges are kicking them while they are down,” he said.

Salvatore Anello “negligently exposed the child to the abyss through a window on the 11th floor of the cruise ship,” Puerto Rico officials said in a statement.

Mr. Wiegand is a police officer in South Bend, Ind. The South Bend chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police denounced the charges brought against Mr. Anello, saying that they should be dropped.

“The charges filed in Puerto Rico today are appalling and do nothing but revictimize a family who experienced a horrific loss,” Harvey Mills, the chapter president, said in a statement.

The Wiegands “stand completely behind” Mr. Anello, Mr. Winkleman said.

“They are confused as to why the focus is on Sal when the bigger question is why Royal Caribbean wasn’t following the standards for the windows that are designed specifically to prevent a child from falling,” he said.

“We obviously blame them for not having a safer situation on the 11th floor of that cruise ship,” Ms. Wiegand said on “Today” in July.

The Wiegands said they planned to file a lawsuit against Royal Caribbean later this year.

“The first 30 seconds of the day I don’t remember what happened, and then it comes back and I relive what happened,” Ms. Wiegand said through tears in July.

“The thing I latch on to is her memory,” she said of Chloe. “She just exuded love.”