Parents of Toddler Stand Behind Grandfather Accused in Toddler’s Cruise Ship Death

October 29, 2019 Updated: October 29, 2019

The grieving parents of the toddler who plunged 150 feet to her death are standing in support of the girl’s grandfather after he was charged with negligent homicide. They are vowing to sue the cruise liner for leaving a window open in a play area.

Salvatore “Sam” Anello was charged with negligent homicide on Monday over the death of 18-month-old Chloe Wiegand on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship docked in Puerto Rico.

“They are confused as to why the focus is on Sal when the bigger question is why Royal Caribbean wasn’t following the standards for the windows that are designed specifically to prevent a child from falling,” family lawyer Michael Winkleman told the New York Times.

According to the Daily Mail, he said there are questions about why Anello is facing charges.

“It’s hard to not think that a lot of this is either for show or for some sort of ulterior motive,” Winkleman said, saying that local officials might be trying to shift the blame from Royal Caribbean to the father.

Toddler Chloe 1
18-month-old girl, Chloe, who fell to her death from the window of a cruise ship docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in July. (Courtesy of Wiegand Family)

Winkleman said that while he has no evidence, he theorized, “there was an effort to try to have this case go forward in an effort to try to help Royal Caribbean.”

Winkleman said that Anello was playing with the girl near an open window, thinking that it was closed, CNN reported.

Prosecutors have alleged that he “negligently exposed [his granddaughter] through one of the windows,” according to a statement from the Puerto Rican Department of Justice.

A judge “found cause for arrest against the accused, and imposed a bail of $80,000,” the governor’s office stated.

Her parents have blamed Royal Caribbean, saying the window should not have been open in the first place.

The charges against Anello added Winkleman to CNN, are tantamount to “pouring salt on the open wounds of this grieving family.”

The MS Allure of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean International Cruise ship, the world’s largest passenger vessel (1200 ft). (Roni Lehti/Getty Images)

“Clearly, this was a tragic accident, and the family’s singular goal remains for something like this to never happen again,” Winkleman said. The girl’s parents “are trying to keep it together for their 11-year-old son, and these charges are kicking them while they are down,” he also told the New York Times.

Alan Wiegand, the girl’s father, is a police officer in South Bend, Indiana. The South Bend chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police slammed the murder charges.

“The charges filed in Puerto Rico today are appalling and do nothing but revictimize a family who experienced a horrific loss,” Harvey Mills, the chapter president, told the newspaper.