Grandfather Accused of Dropping Toddler to Death From Cruise Ship to Face Judge

February 24, 2020 Updated: February 24, 2020

An Indiana man accused of dropping his granddaughter from an 11th floor window of a cruise ship docked in Puerto Rico last year declined his right to a jury trial on Feb. 24.

Salvatore Anello, who is charged with negligent homicide in the death of 18-month-old Chloe Wiegand, will instead face a judge. The case is expected to be heard in April.

The death occurred in July 2019 as the girl from Granger, Indiana, vacationed with her family aboard the Freedom of the Seas of Royal Caribbean Cruises. Anello has said he did not know the window was open when he lifted Chloe to it so she could bang on the glass.

Toddler Chloe
18-month-old Chloe Wiegand. (Courtesy of Wiegand Family)

Wiegand’s family has sued the cruise ship company, accusing it of negligence by allowing the window in the ship’s children’s play area to be open.

As part of a wrongful death suit, the Wiegand family filed against Royal Caribbean in December, their attorney released reenactment photos in January, saying they are evidence the grandfather couldn’t physically lean out of the window from which the toddler fell, as the company has alleged.

A reenactment of the tragic scene on another ship
A reenactment of the tragic scene on another ship with the same design. (Courtesy of Michael Winklema/Wiegand family attorney)

The family’s latest legal claim is in response to the Royal Caribbean’s motion to dismiss the December lawsuit.

The photos were taken this month on the Freedom of the Seas cruise ship from which Chloe fell. In a legal filing, the family accuses Royal Caribbean of creating “a false narrative” of the incident and providing footage of only two of the 13 available cameras in the area.

“We went to re-enact what happened on the same ship, same window where Mr. Anello stood with Chloe. What we found completely backs up his story. Pictures of the reconstruction are included in our filing,” family attorney Michael Winkleman said.

Toddler Chloe 1
18-month-old Chloe Wiegand. (Courtesy of Wiegand Family)

The CNN Wire and The Associated Press contributed to this report