US & Canada

Royal Caribbean toddler death: Grandfather charged over cruise ship fall

Chloe Wiegand Image copyright Attorney Michael Winkleman
Image caption Chloe Wiegand, from Indiana, died in July

The grandfather of a toddler who fell to her death from an open window on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in July has been charged with negligent homicide.

Salvatore Anello, 50, was playing with one-year-old Chloe Wiegand while the ship was docked in Puerto Rico when she fell from the 11th floor.

The Indiana family blamed the cruise ship company for the accident.

But on Monday, San Juan authorities alleged Mr Anello was responsible for Chloe's death.

The family's attorney Michael Winkleman said the charges were "pouring salt on the open wounds of this grieving family".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A Royal Caribbean ship docked in Puerto Rico in 2017

He said the fall was "clearly a tragic accident" and that the family's goal is for something like this to never happen again.

Mr Winkleman is representing the family in a civil suit being prepared against Royal Caribbean.

Mr Anello is being held on $80,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in court on 20 November.

Chloe's parents are Kimberly and Alan Wiegand. Mr Wiegand is a South Bend, Indiana, police officer.

How did Chloe fall?

On 7 July, Chloe and her family were on vacation when the cruise ship was docked in San Juan.

Image copyright Attorney Michael Winkleman
Image caption Chloe liked to lean against the glass at her brother's hockey games, the family's lawyer said

Mr Anello put her on the railing of a children's play area, believing there was glass there, the family claims.

She fell through a large, open window, landing on the concrete dock below.

According to Mr Winkleman, "Chloe wanted to bang on the glass" as she did during her brother's hockey games.

Image copyright Attorney Michael Winkleman
Image caption Chloe fell from this wall of windows, when Mr Anello did not realise one had been slid open

He said "her grandfather thought there was glass just like everywhere else, but there was not, and she was gone in an instant".

He told the BBC in a statement at the time that Chloe's grandfather did not drop her, but she fell from an open pane that should have been closed securely.

"The family needs answers as to why there would be an open window in a wall full of fixed windows in a kids' play area? Why would you have the danger without any warning, sign, or notice?"

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