The Indiana grandfather of a toddler girl who fell to her death while aboard a Caribbean cruise ship apparently declined to give authorities an official statement, according to a report by DailyMail.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, 1-year-old Chloe Wiegand fell from the 11th floor of the Freedom of the Seas cruise ship on Sunday while playing with her grandfather, Salvatore Anello, in the children’s H2O Zone children’s water park, according to Anello’s lawyer.
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. Chloe tried to bang on a window that was not there and ended up falling.
“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,” attorney Michael Winkleman said.
DailyMail reports than an official from the Puerto Rico justice department stated Anello, who attended an appointment at the Puerto Rico Department of Justice, left without offering an official statement. Anello’s lawyer accompanied him to the meeting and reportedly advised him against making a statement.
So far no arrests have been made in the incident. Authorities previously called the child’s death a “tragic accident,” but the investigation is still ongoing. They haven’t yet determined if Anello will face charges.
Anello returned to the U.S. on Wednesday with his wife, Patricia. The little girl’s parents, Alan and Kimberly Wiegand, who also declined to provide an official statement to the Justice Department in Puerto Rico, returned to Indiana on the same day.
Meanwhile, Annelo’s attorney is laying the blame on the Royal Caribbean cruise line.
“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? 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.
“There was absolutely no alcohol involved, Sam is not a drinker,” Winkleman said.
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.
For the latest true crime and justice news, subscribe to the ‘Crime Stories with Nancy Grace’ podcast. Here is a related episode.
[Feature Photo: Chloe Wiegand/Family Handout]