Grandfather of toddler who fell out of cruise ship window charged in girl's death

Chloe Wiegand fell to her death off the 11th story of the ship after her grandfather placed her near an open window during the family's Royal Caribbean trip in July.

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
SUBSCRIBE
By Doha Madani

Authorities have arrested the grandfather of an 18-month-old who fell out of a window on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in Puerto Rico during the Indiana family's trip in July.

Puerto Rico's Justice Department ordered the arrest of Salvatore Anello on Monday, and he faces a charge of negligent homicide in the death of his granddaughter, Chloe Wiegand, according to a press release from authorities in San Juan. While the vessel was docked in San Juan, Anello placed Chloe near an open window he thought was closed when her family said she fell out of the ship's 11th story in July.

Chloe Wiegand.Courtesy Wiegand Family

"These criminal charges are pouring salt on the open wounds of this grieving family," said Michael Winkleman at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman P.A., who is representing the family in a planned civil lawsuit. "Clearly, this was a tragic accident, and the family’s singular goal remains for something like this to never happen again. Had the cruise lines simply followed proper safety guidelines for windows, this accident likely would never have happened."

Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.

Chloe's parents, Alan and Kimberly Wiegand, said they didn't understand why there would be an open window so high up on the ship and that the cruise line created "a tremendous safety hazard that cost our child her life."

Chloe's mother defended Anello in an interview with the "Today" show, explaining that he often held Chloe up to the glass at her older brother's hockey game so she could bang on the glass. Kimberly Wiegand insisted that the grandfather has never put her children in danger.

"He was extremely hysterical,'' she told NBC News' Savannah Guthrie in July. "The thing that he has repeatedly told us is, 'I believed that there was glass.' He will cry over and over and over."

She said that Anello was extremely distraught over the accident.

"You can barely look at him without him crying," Kimberly Wiegand said. "She was his best friend."

Royal Caribbean said in a statement at the time that it was saddened by the incident and was working with authorities in San Juan in the investigation into Chloe's death.

A spokeswoman for the cruise line on Monday said in a statement that it would have no further comment. "This was a tragic incident, and out of respect for the family’s privacy, we refer you to authorities for further comment."

Anello is being held on $80,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 20, according to The Associated Press.