Salvatore Anello, the grandfather who accidentally allowed his 18-month-old granddaughter to fall to her death out of a cruise ship window last year, pleaded guilty to negligent homicide.
Anello initially pleaded not guilty in October of 2019, but released a statement in February of this year that he would change his plea in an effort to help his family move on from the tragedy. “I took a plea deal today to try to help end part of this nightmare for my family, if possible.”
The 51-year-old grandfather has been adamant that he did not know the 11th floor window in the children’s play area of the docked Royal Caribbean cruise ship was open when he lifted grandchild Chloe Wiegand up to the glass, so she could knock on it like she had done at her older brother’s hockey games.
Anello’s lawyer, Michael Winkleman, previously said his client took the plea because it included no jail time, as negligent homicide can carry a three-year incarceration period in Puerto Rico, where the ship was docked. The deal also did not require an admission of facts, an important distinction, because Chloe’s parents are suing the cruise line for negligence.
Royal Caribbean was unsuccessful in attempts to have the case thrown out of court, alleging that Anello had stuck his head out of the window and knew it was open, an accusation the family has vehemently denied.
Anello claims he is colorblind and may not have been able to see the tinted window was left open. “I wasn’t drinking and I wasn’t dangling her out of the window.”
After toddling away from the splash pool on the first day of the seven-day cruise, Chloe led Anello towards the windows and he lifted her up to sit on the handrail, but she slipped from his grasp and plunged 150 feet to her death.
“Chloe being gone is the worst thing ever, so I’m like whatever, you know. There’s nothing worse that they could do to me than what’s already happened,“ he said.