An Indiana grandfather who watched his toddler granddaughter fall 11 floors to her death while aboard a cruise ship, recalled the tragic incident through tears and sobs, during a Monday evening interview with CBS.
Chloe Wiegand, an 18-month-old toddler from Granger, Indiana, was on a 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.
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.
As Anello spoke with CBS Evening News, he relived the tragic incident. The man said he was in disbelief as he watched Chloe slip from hands and plummet over 100 feet. He was holding Chloe close to a ledge, as he’s done previously as hockey games.
“I remember trying to find her on the floor and then I saw her fall, I saw her fall, I saw her fall and I was just in disbelief. And I was like ‘Oh my God.’ And I think for a while I was in shock and I was just standing there. And then I just remember screaming that I thought there was glass. I thought there was glass.”
“I am color blind so that’s something that … I don’t know. I just never saw it. I’ve been told that’s a reason it may have happened.” – Salvatore Anello
EXCLUSIVE: Salvatore Anello, the grandfather charged with negligent homicide after his 18-month-old granddaughter fell from the window of a cruise ship, opens up to @DavidBegnaud: "I remember screaming that I thought there was glass."
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) November 25, 2019
Meanwhile, although authorities think Anello’s actions align with negligent homicide, his family thinks otherwise. Chloe’s parents previously indicated that they thought the cruise line was at fault for having an open window by a children’s play area.
“They feel devastated and distraught. They stand 100 percent behind [the grandfather] and his version of events that he thought this was a wall of windows,” lawyer Michael Winkleman told PEOPLE earlier this month.
Winkleman added that the family was in the process of grieving the loss of Chloe when prosecutors charged Anello. The lawyer said it was like “pouring salt in their open wounds.”
“They’re in the beginning stages of a lengthy process that is grief. They were trying to put their lives back together, and you throw this into the mix and it puts them back to square one.”
Chloe’s parents, Alan and Kimberly Wiegand, are preparing a lawsuit against Royal Caribbean.
“This cannot happen to another family,” Kimberly Wiegand said during a July interview with NBC’s “Today” show. “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.
“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.”
Check back for updates.
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[Feature Photo: Chloe Wiegand/Family Handout]