The grandfather who was holding his 18-month-old granddaughter when she plummeted to her death from an 11th story window while on a cruise, has been charged in her death.
Nearly four months ago, the man was spending time with his granddaughter on the cruise ship, Freedom of the Seas, when tragedy struck while it was docked in Puerto Rico. As Mamas Uncut previously reported, 18-month-old Chloe Wiegand and her maternal grandfather, Salvatore Anello, were playing in the kids’ area of the ship when Anello picked Wiegand up and stood her on a railing to look out the window.
Wiegand’s family, who is from Indiana, told reporters that windows covered much of the wall on that level on the cruise ship. However, what Anello didn’t realize was that the windows opened.
While taking in the view, reports state that Wiegand went to put her hands on the windows in front of her. However, because one of those windows was open, the 18-month-old slipped from her grandfather’s grip and fell 11 stories to the deck below. Wiegand died on impact.
The family’s attorney, Michael Winkleman, explained to Today, “Essentially her grandfather lifts her up and puts her on a railing and where he thinks that there is glass there because it’s clear, but it turns out there was no glass there. She goes to bang on the glass, like she would have at one of those hockey rinks, and the next thing you know, she’s gone.”
The Grandfather Was Arrested Almost Four Months Later
New developments in the investigation reveal that Anello has been charged with negligent manslaughter, despite the family’s wishes. Anello was arrested on October 28 for his role in his granddaughter’s death.
Anello is currently being held on an $80,000 bond, the Associated Press reports. He is scheduled to appear back in court on November 20. If he is found guilty, he could spend 15 years in prison. He’s accused of dropping his granddaughter from the window.
Wiegand’s mother, Kimberly Wiegand, told Today in a separate interview that the family doesn’t blame Anello for their daughter’s tragic passing. She said she knows Chloe’s death was an accident, describing Anello as “extremely hysterical” following the incident.
“The thing that he has repeatedly told us is, ‘I believed that there was glass.’ He will cry over and over and over. … She was his best friend.” Now, as WISH-TV reports, Winkleman called the charges salt in the wound.
“These criminal charges are 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…”
Who Does the Family Blame?
The family has since put blame on Royal Caribbean, calling the unmarked open window in the kids’ play area a hazard, as well as a “hidden danger.” Despite losing their baby girl, Wiegand’s parents never wanted Anello to be charged in her death, knowing what happened was an unfortunate and absolutely tragic accident.
Kimberly said in her interview with Today, “We obviously blame them for not having a safer situation on the 11th floor of that cruise ship. There are a million things that could’ve been done to make that safer. I know my mom was asking people, ‘Why on earth is there a window open on the 11th floor without a screen or anything.'”
Staff working on the ship during the tragic accident said the window was open to provide ventilation on the ship. However, Kimberly said there are safer ways to provide ventilation, ways that don’t involve unmarked opened windows on the 11th floor of a cruise ship. Kimberly told Today:
“I didn’t know that she went out a window. And I just kept saying, ‘Take me to my baby. Where’s my baby?’ I didn’t even notice a window. I ran over there, and I looked over, and it wasn’t water down there. It was concrete. To lose our baby this way is just unfathomable.”
In July, Royal Caribbean issued a statement in response to Wiegand’s tragic passing. It read, “We are deeply saddened by this incident, and our hearts go out to the family. We have assisted the authorities in San Juan with their inquiries, and they are the appropriate people to address further questions.”
Sara Vallone has been a writer and editor for the last four and a half years. A graduate of Ohio University, she enjoys celebrity news, sports, and articles that enhance people’s lives.