Grandfather Charged with Negligent Homicide in Death of Toddler Who Fell from Cruise Ship
The grandfather of a 1-year-old girl who fell to her death from a cruise ship this summer has been charged with negligent homicide, multiple outlets report.
According to the Associated Press, a judge in Puerto Rico ordered the arrest of Salvatore Anello on Monday after prosecutors argued that his granddaughter, Chloe Wiegand, 18 months, fell and died after he lifted her up to an open window on the ship.
The Puerto Rico Department of Justice did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Chloe tragically died after she fell more than 10 stories onto a concrete dock while in the children’s play area of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship this summer. The family has previously disputed accounts that she fell from her grandfather’s arms.
The family’s attorney, Michael Winkleman, previously explained that Anello had put her on the ledge of a window in the children’s area. Winkleman said that Chloe’s grandfather was unaware that it was open. Chloe was used to being next to glass, having a habit of banging on the panels at the hockey rink at home while attending her brother’s games and practices.
“Essentially her grandfather lifts her up and puts her on a railing and where he thinks that there is glass there because it’s clear, but it turns out there was no glass there,” Winkleman told the Today show. “She goes to bang on the glass like she would have at one of those hockey rinks, and the next thing you know, she’s gone.”
Chloe’s parents, Alan and Kimberly Wiegand, spoke out in an interview with the Today show in July, defending their child’s grandfather.
“He was extremely hysterical. The thing that he has repeatedly told us is, ‘I believed that there was glass,’” Kimberly said. “He will cry over and over and over. At no point ever — ever — has [he] ever put our kids in danger.”
Alan said that Anello was “very distraught,” to the point where you could “barely look at him without him crying.”
“[Chloe] was his best friend,” he added, visibly emotional.
Kimberly added at the time that she thinks Royal Caribbean “[has] to be” responsible for the incident, saying, “This cannot happen to another family.”
“We obviously blame them,” she said. “There are a million things that could’ve been done to make that safer. I know my mom was asking people, ‘Why on Earth is there a window open on the 11th floor without a screen or anything?’“
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“And their response to that was, ‘We need ventilation,’” Kimberly claimed. “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.’”
In a previous statement to PEOPLE, a spokesperson for Royal Caribbean said they are “deeply saddened” by the incident, adding, “We’ve made our Care Team available to assist the family with any resources they need. Out of respect for their privacy, we do not plan to comment further on the incident.”