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Grandpa Pleads Guilty in Baby's 150 Feet Fatal Fall From Cruise |"It’s Pouring Salt In Their Open Wounds" Says Lawyer

Grandpa Pleads Guilty in Baby's 150 Feet Fatal Fall From Cruise |"It’s Pouring Salt In Their Open Wounds" Says Lawyer

The toddler's family stated that the incident was an accident and it shouldn't be seen as a crime.

A grandfather is pleading guilty after his granddaughter succumbed to death after falling from a window of a cruise ship.

According to People, Sam Anello was charged with negligent homicide in the death of 18-month-old Chloe Wiegand. The toddler, who was under the care of her grandfather, fell out of a window onto a concrete dock in July 2019.



 

Though the pensioner was charged for negligence, the family stood by him. They mourned the death of their baby and stated the incident that occurred in the Royal Caribbean cruise ship was an accident and not a crime. 

However, the pensioner decided to plead guilty to a negligent homicide on October 15, 2020.



 

Talking about the charges, the family's lawyer Michael Winkleman previously said, "It’s pouring salt in their open wounds." He added, "They’re in the beginning stages of a lengthy process that is grief. They were trying to put their lives back together, and you throw this into the mix and it puts them back to square one," according to People.



 

As per Anello's statement in February 2020, he was holding the toddler against a railing in the children's play area on the cruise that was docked in Puerto Rico. However, he did not know the row of windows next to the railings were open. Moments later, the unexpected happened. The baby girl slipped out of his grip and fell from the open window.

"I was focused on Chloe the whole time I was with her. As I walked with her I also saw that the ship deck was surrounded by a wall of glass," said the grandfather, according to People.

He continued, "In my experience, any elevated public place I’ve been with that much glass has always been a protective barrier. …From my point of view, at the moment the accident happened, it was as if this wall of protective glass disappeared. I was in complete disbelief.”

Anello further added, "It was a nightmare of the likes I could never have imagined before,” he continued.

“I wasn’t drinking and I wasn’t dangling her out of a window. I just wanted to knock on the glass with her as we did together so many times before. I was just so horribly wrong about our surroundings. I was placed in charge of keeping my beautiful granddaughter safe and I failed. It will always be a constant nightmare every day and every night for the rest of my life.”



 

Fortunately, Anello's plea deal has been accepted by a San Juan judge. As per NBC News, he will be sentenced on December 10, 2020. The plea deal will prevent Anello from any jail time. Instead, he will serve probation in his home state of South Bend, Indiana. 

"This decision was an incredibly difficult one for Sam and the family, but because the plea agreement includes no jail time and no admission of facts, it was decided the plea deal is in the best interests of the family so that they can close this horrible chapter and turn their focus to mourning Chloe and fighting for cruise passenger safety by raising awareness about the need for all common carriers to adhere to window fall prevention laws designed to protect children from falling from windows," said the family attorney, according to People.



 

The grieving family of the toddler has filed a civil lawsuit against Royal Caribbean. They are hoping to hold the Cruise company accountable for failing to adhere to the required safety standards for children.



 

"We will continue the fight for justice for Chloe and to hold Royal Caribbean accountable for its brazen failure to follow the standards designed precisely to prevent children from falling out of windows," said Winkleman. 

References: 

https://people.com/crime/chloe-wiegand-grandfather-pleads-guilty-toddler-fall-cruise-ship/
https://people.com/crime/chloe-wiegand-cruise-death-grandfather-charged-family-stands-behind-him/
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/grandfather-pleads-guilty-toddler-s-death-cruise-ship-fall-n1243547