Surveillance footage provided to CBS showed the final moments of a toddler’s life before she fell to her death while aboard a Caribbean cruise ship in July.
Chloe Wiegand, an 18-month-old toddler from Granger, Indiana, was on the cruise with family when she lost her life aboard Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas cruise ship. The ship was docked in Puerto Rico at the time of the incident, on July 7.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Chloe died after falling from the 11th floor and landing on the hard, concrete surface of the Pan American dock. She was playing with her grandfather, Salvatore Anello, in the children’s H2O Zone children’s water park when she fell from an open window.
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 close to a ledge, thinking the window behind her was protected by a glass wall.
The video, according to CBS, has not been released to the public. However, it reportedly showed Anello doing what was previously described. He held Chloe above the railing in the play area, reportedly not realizing the window was open. Within seconds, Chloe fell.
Last month, San Juan Investigations Chamber Judge Jimmy Sepúlveda ruled that prosecutors provided probable cause for the arrest of Anello. He’s currently facing a negligent homicide charge.
The family’s civil lawyer, Michael Winkleman, previously said that the family is shocked and saddened over the charges. They plan to file a lawsuit against Royal Caribbean in connection with Chloe’s death.
Chloe’s parents, Alan and Kimberly Wiegand, both agreed that the cruise line should have never left an open window near a children’s play area.
“This cannot happen to another family,” Kimberly Wiegand said during a July interview with NBC’s “Today” show earlier this year. “We obviously blame them for not having a safer situation on the 11th floor of that cruise ship.”
Royal Carribean declined to comment on the upcoming lawsuit.
Winkleman added that the lawsuit hasn’t been filed yet because he previously didn’t have the CCTV footage of the incident, something he had been trying to obtain for months.
“There’s no doubt this was an accident,” Mike Winkleman told NBC. “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 security footage will play a key role in the evidence against Anello, according to Winkleman, who isn’t representing the grandfather in the criminal case.
“You have to assume that it shows something that really led the Puerto Rican authorities to believe there was a criminal offense, so clearly there’s something in that video,” he told CBS.
Winkleman added that regardless, he doesn’t think there is a reason to charge Anello, since what for what appeared to be a tragic accident.
“There is just no real reason to charge this man with any crime,” Winkleman said, according to Indy Star. “You could make an argument that whoever opened that window should be charged with a crime, not Sam.”
Anello made $80,000 bail and is now home, but he’s “doing terribly,” according to Winkleman. Anello is scheduled to return to court on December 17.
Check back for updates.
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[Feature Photo: Chloe Wiegand/Family Handout]