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‘This is not a Michael Jackson story’: Lawyer says grandfather never dangled toddler who fell from 11th floor on cruise ship

The attorney for a grandfather whose granddaughter plummeted from the 11th floor of a Caribbean cruise ship announced in a Tuesday press conference that his client didn’t dangle the child from a ledge, despite initial reports.

“If this was the Michael Jackson story, where he was dangling the child out the window, clearly the parent is negligent,” lawyer Michael Winkleman said during the press conference. “But here, if you have a wall of glass, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to put a child there, thinking there was glass there.”

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Yet, no glass was on the window and a young child needlessly lost her young life. Winkleman said Royal Caribbean acted in negligence and should have never had a window without glass so close to a children’s play area.

“The grandfather thought it was entirely glass. There’s a wood railing right there. He puts her up on there thinking she’s going to bang on the glass and it’s gonna be great. She goes to bang on the glass and the next thing he knows, she’s gone.”

On Sunday, the little girl fell from the 11th floor of the Freedom of the Seas cruise ship while playing with her grandfather, Salvatore Anello, in the children’s H2O Zone children’s water park, the lawyer said.

Anello, who often accompanied Chloe to her brothers’ hockey games, where she enthusiastically banged on the hockey rink glass panel, apparently lifted the girl up at her request while they were in the play area. Previous reports indicated the pair were in the dining area on the 11th floor.

Attorney Michael Winkleman speaks for the family whose toddler fell on a Royal Caribbean ship this weekend and died.

Attorney Michael Winkleman speaks for the family whose toddler fell on a Royal Caribbean ship this weekend and died.http://bit.ly/2YRpQcZ

Posted by The National Desk – TND on Tuesday, July 9, 2019

 

The little girl died Sunday after she landed on the hard surface of the Pan American dock. Her parents, Alan and Kimberly Wiegand, were so devastated they had to be medically sedated, according to El Vocero. The ship was docked in Puerto Rico at the time, after a week-long excursion.

“I think Royal Caribbean needs to answer these questions: Why would you ever in a kid’s play area put windows that passengers can open?” Winkleman asked.

“I mean, we’ve all had that experience where someone walks into a glass sliding door thinking it’s not there. This is the inverse of that. It was reasonable for Sam the grandfather to think that this was all glass because from his perspective it was all glass.”

Winkleman added that there was no alcohol involved during the incident. He also hopes to gain entry onto the ship and view the security footage.

Chloe Wiegand
Chloe Wiegand [Facebook, Family Handout]
As CrimeOnline previously reported, although it’s been called a “tragic accident,” Puerto Rican officials indicated that they’re still in the process of gathering evidence, which will ultimately determine if Anello will face neglect charges.

Anello’s boss, Mike Hamann, spoke with CBS and explained the grandfather was “selfless” and loved. Hamann implied he couldn’t imagine Anello would ever purposely hurt his grandchild.

“People just love him here in the county,” Hamann said. “He’s a very selfless man, he’s got a servant’s heart, as we say. And just one of the most wonderful human beings that you could ever meet.”

Chloe was traveling with several other family members when the tragedy occurred, including her parents, both sets of grandparents, and her siblings.

Chloe’s father is an officer with the South Bend Police Department in Indiana.

Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.

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[Feature Photo: Chloe Wiegand/Family Handout]