Chloe Wiegand

Grandfather of toddler who fell from cruise ship window facing homicide charges

Puerto Rican authorities have charged a grandfather with negligent homicide in the death of a toddler who fell from an 11th story window on a Caribbean cruise ship docked in San Juan this summer.

San Juan Investigations Chamber Judge Jimmy Sepúlveda ruled that prosecutors had provided probable cause for the arrest of Salvatore Anello, set bond at $80,000, and scheduled a hearing for November 20, NBC New York reported.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, Chloe Wiegand died on July 7 after falling from the 11th floor of the Freedom of the Seas cruise ship and landing on the hard, concrete surface of the Pan American dock. She was playing with her grandfather in the children’s H2O Zone children’s water park on the ship when, according to Anello’s lawyer, she fell from an open window. She was 18-months-old.

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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 and sat her on the ledge, thinking the window behind her was protected by a glass wall. It wasn’t, and the window was open.

The little girl’s parents — Kimberly and Alan Wiegand, who were on the cruise with their daughter and both sets of grandparents — said in late July that they blamed Royal Caribbean for what they saw as an accident that needn’t have happened.

Kimberly Wiegand said in an interview on the Today show that there were “a million things” the cruise line could have done to help prevent the tragedy. The distraught mother said the cruise line told her the window was open for ventilation.

“And their response to that was, ‘We need ventilation,’” she said. “Well, to that I would say, ‘Get a fan. Come up with some other mechanism to make your guests comfortable, rather than creating a tremendous safety hazard that cost our child her life.’”

“There’s no doubt this was an accident. Really the singular question is, were there safety measures that could have been in place and should have been in place? If they were in place, again, there would have been no tragedy,” the couple’s lawyer, Michael Winkleman, said.

The family is from Indiana, where Alan Wiegand is a South Bend police officer.

See more reporting on this story from CrimeOnline.

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[Feature Photo: Chloe Wiegand/Family Handout]