Department of Justice

Grandfather Charged in Death of Toddler Who Fell Out Cruise Ship Window

Salvatore Anello was charged with negligent manslaughter. "These criminal charges are pouring salt on the open wounds of this grieving family," attorney Michael Winkleman said

The grandfather of a toddler who died after falling off a Royal Caribbean cruise ship docked in Puerto Rico in July has been charged with negligent manslaughter.

San Juan Investigations Chamber judge Jimmy Sepúlveda ordered the arrest of Salvatore Anello Monday after prosecutors submitted evidence and said the 18-month-old girl fell when he raised her up to an open window. 

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

Chloe Wiegand was traveling with her parents, two siblings and two sets of grandparents aboard the Freedom of the Seas, which docked in San Juan on July 7 after a weeklong trip through the Caribbean.

Family attorney Michael Winkleman has said that the toddler asked her maternal grandfather to lift her up so she could bang on the glass in a children's play area, something he said Chloe often did at her brother's hockey games back home in Indiana. He blamed the cruise ship company for leaving the window inexplicably open. 

"These criminal charges are pouring salt on the open wounds of this grieving family," said Winkleman. "Clearly, this was a tragic accident, and the family’s singular goal remains for something like this to never happen again. Had the cruise lines simply followed proper safety guidelines for windows, this accident likely would never have happened."

Wilkman, a maritime lawyer at the Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman firm, is representing the family in a planned civil suit. 

The girl's family told TODAY in July that the cruise company's negligence "cost our child her life."

"We obviously blame them for not having a safer situation on the 11th floor of that cruise ship. 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?'" Chloe Wiegand's mother, Kimberly Wiegand, told Savannah Guthrie.

"And their response to that was, 'We need ventilation.' 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.'"

A spokeswoman for Royal Caribbean on Monday said in a statement to NBC News that "this was a tragic incident, and out of respect for the family’s privacy, we refer you to authorities for further comment."

In an obituary, Chloe Wiegand was described as a girl who loved to laugh, smile and throw kisses, even at strangers.

"She could get anybody to smile,'' Kimberly Wiegand told TODAY. "Her first word was 'Hi.' I mean, she loved people."

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