Grandfather of toddler who died falling from cruise ship to plead guilty in her death

  • In US
  • 2020-02-26 01:59:00Z
  • By NBC News

The grandfather of the 18-month-old girl who fell to her death from an open window on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in San Juan, Puerto Rico, will plead guilty in her death, a family attorney said Tuesday.

Salvatore Anello, also known as Sam, initially pleaded not guilty to a negligent homicide charge from Puerto Rican authorities in October in the death of Chloe Wiegand in July.

Michael Winkleman, the attorney for the Wiegand family, told NBC News on Tuesday that Anello filed paperwork to change his plea in return for an agreement that included no jail time. Anello, who lives in South Bend, Indiana, will be able to serve his probation in Indiana, according to Winkleman.

Winkleman said the deal "is in the best interests of the family so that they can close this horrible chapter and turn their focus to mourning Chloe." A hearing date for the change of plea has yet to be determined.

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The Wiegand family filed a federal civil action in December against Royal Caribbean Cruises, alleging that the company was at fault for the accident. A judge approved the suit this month after Royal Caribbean sought to block it.

Chloe was with her mother in a children's water park area on the pool's 11th deck. When her mother had to go to attend to another matter, Anello came to supervise her, according to the family's lawsuit.

"Mr. Anello was closely supervising Chloe as she played," the suit says. When "Chloe walked over to a nearby wall of glass on the same deck," her grandfather followed her, it says.

Anello has insisted that he believed there was glass in the open window of the ship's 11th story when he held Chloe up.

The family has claimed that Anello put Chloe up to the window to bang on the glass when she slipped from his hands and fell to her death. There were no signs indicating that the windows were open, Anello told CBS in November. He also said he is colorblind, which may have been why he couldn't distinguish between the tinted closed windows and the open window.

Chloe's parents, Kim and Alan Wiegand, said on "Today" after her death last summer that they hoped to bring awareness and ensure that such an accident doesn't happen to another family.

"We obviously blame them for not having a safer situation on the 11th floor of that cruise ship," Kim Wiegand said. "There are a million things that could've been done to make that safer."

Royal Caribbean didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.


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