The grandfather of a toddler who fell to her death on a cruise ship in July has been charged with negligent homicide in her death, Puerto Rican authorities said. The family said they are crushed after hearing about the charges.
Salvatore Anello, of Valparaiso, was playing with the girl, Chloe Wiegand, on the 11th floor near a window while the ship was docked in Puerto Rico.
An attorney for the Indiana family has said Anello sat the girl on rails near the open window, thinking it was closed. Prosecutors allege that Anello “negligently exposed [his granddaughter] through one of the windows,” according to a statement from the Puerto Rican Department of Justice.
The San Juan judge “found cause for arrest against the accused, and imposed a bail of $80,000,” the governor’s office said.
Chloe’s parents blamed the cruise line company, Royal Caribbean, after the accident, saying the window shouldn’t have been open.
The criminal charges are “pouring salt on the open wounds of this grieving family,” said Michael Winkleman, an attorney representing the family in a civil suit he’s preparing against Royal Caribbean.
“Clearly this was a tragic accident and the family’s singular goal remains for something like this to never happen again,” Winkleman said in a statement.
Anello turned himself into Puerto Rico officials Monday, Winkleman said. He was arraigned, posted bond and is now back in Indiana with his family.
The details of the toddler’s death have been disputed since the accident. Port Authority officials said Anello sat the girl in the window and lost his balance, and the girl fell to her death.
Winkleman, however, told media that the toddler loved glass and windows, and her grandfather had placed her on a ledge by a glass wall, but had no idea one window within the wall was open.
Royal Caribbean “has still not given us the opportunity to view surveillance video they have of the incident,” the attorney said.
Royal Caribbean said after the incident that it was “deeply saddened” by it, and that it had “assisted the authorities in San Juan with their inquiries.”
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for November 20. Anello has retained counsel in Puerto Rico for the criminal charges.