'She slipped': Grandfather speaks on 1-year-old's fatal fall from Royal Caribbean cruise ship




  • In US
  • 2019-11-26 14:54:59Z
  • By USA TODAY
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\'She slipped\': Grandfather speaks on 1-year-old\'s fatal fall from Royal Caribbean cruise ship  

A northern Indiana grandfather insisted he had no idea a cruise ship window was open when Chloe Wiegand fell to her death at a port in Puerto Rico.

"I didn't realize there wasn't any glass until the absolutely that it was too late," Salvatore Anello told "CBS This Morning" in a story that aired Tuesday.

"When she first fell, I thought she fell in front of me. I thought she fell in front of me."

Chloe, 18 months, was in a play area on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship Freedom of the Seas as it was docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on July 8 when she fell 115 feet to the ground.

Police initially said Salvatore Anello told officers he lost his grip while holding the girl outside the window on the 11th deck, the Associated Press reported.

The deck was surrounded by clear windows. Anello told CBS he lifted Chloe up to let her bang on the glass.

"All I know is I was trying to reach the glass and I know that we leaned over to try to have her reach the glass, at that point she slipped," Anello said. "She slipped. She slipped."

Prosecutors in Puerto Rico charged Anello last month with negligent homicide in the death of his 18-month-old granddaughter.

Anello, 51, of Valparaiso, "negligently exposed the child to the abyss through a window on the 11th floor of the cruise ship," Puerto Rico Attorney General Dennise N. Longo Quiñones and other officials said in an Oct 28 news release announcing the charge and Anello's arrest.

If convicted, the charge carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison.

When asked about the criminal case and possible prison time, Anello said he's emotionally devastated.

"Chloe being gone is the worst thing ever so I'm like, whatever, you know," Anello said. "There's nothing worse that they could do to me than what's already happened."

Anello's attorney, José G. Pérez Ortiz, told the Indianapolis Star, part of the USA TODAY Network, that surveillance video of the incident is consistent with the grandfather's assertion that he believed the window was closed, Anello's attorney.

"My client thought that the window was closed," Ortiz said. "Nothing in the video is inconsistent."

Prosecutors delivered the video and other evidence to defense last week, Ortiz said. Anello is scheduled to appear in court in Puerto Rico on Dec. 17.

"The Department of Justice does not discuss the evidence to be presented at trial prior to the proceedings. We remain confident, however, that all of the evidence will prove Salvatore Anello's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt," said Prosecutor Quiñones in an emailed statement to IndyStar last week.

Chloe's parents live in Granger, Indiana. Her father, Alan Wiegand, is an officer with the South Bend Police Department.

The Wiegands have supported Anello and blame the cruise line for failing to protect its passengers. Anello told CBS that he wants Royal Caribbean to put signs on the windows to warn passengers when they are open.

Another Indiana man died recently on a cruise ship. Police in Florida are investigating the death of Brian Rice, a Brownsburg father of two, who died Nov. 15 after he fell four stories from a balcony to a lower deck as the Carnival Horizon cruise ship was returning to Miami, authorities said.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Grandfather of girl who fell from cruise ship, Chloe Wiegand, speaks

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