Horrifying twist in death of toddler on cruise ship

A man who dropped his granddaughter out of a cruise ship window to her death allegedly knew the window was open.

Salvatore Anello, 51, was charged with negligent homicide in the death of his granddaughter Chloe Wiegand, 1, on board a Royal Caribbean cruise in Puerto Rico in July last year.

Chloe’s parents have accused Royal Caribbean of negligence by allowing an 11th floor window in the ship’s children’s play area to be open and have since launched a lawsuit.

But Royal Carribean lay the blame with Anello and have filed a response in a US District Court in Miami. In its filing, the company says that Anello was “reckless and irresponsible” in his granddaughter’s fall from the open window on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas ship.

Royal Caribbean claims this CCTV shows Salvatore Anello looking out a window (left) before picking up his granddaughter Chloe Wiegand. Source: United States District Court of Southern Florida

It says surveillance video on the ship shows Anello leaning out of the open window for about eight seconds just moments before he lifted his granddaughter, who would have turned two in December, up to the window, from which she fell to the dock far below.

“This is a case about an adult man, who, as surveillance footage unquestionably confirms: (1) walked up to a window he was aware was open; (2) leaned his upper body out the window for several seconds; (3) reached down and picked up Chloe; and (4) then held her by and out of the open window for thirty four seconds before he lost his grip and dropped Chloe out of the window,” the court filing states.

“His actions, which no reasonable person could have foreseen, were reckless and irresponsible and the sole reason why Chloe is no longer with her parents.”

Chloe died after falling from the window. Source: NBC

But the family’s lawyer Michael Winkleman said that Royal Caribbean’s motion is “baseless and deceptive,” The Indianapolis Star reported.

Anello has insisted that he did not know the window was open when he lifted Chloe to the window, saying he did so to allow her to bang on the glass like she did at her brother’s hockey games. 

He told CBS This Morning in November that he was trying to stand Chloe on the window’s railing when she plunged from the open window. He also said he’s colourblind and that may be why he didn’t realise the tinted window was open.

“I just never saw it. I’ve been told that that’s a reason it might have happened,” he said.

Anello claims he didn't know the window was open and wanted Chloe to bang on the glass as she did during hockey games. Source: Today Show

Anello’s lawyer José G. Pérez Ortiz told The Indianapolis Star in November that surveillance video of the incident is consistent with the grandfather’s assertion that he believed the window was closed.

“My client thought that the window was closed,” Mr Ortiz said. 

“Nothing in the video is inconsistent.”

A spokeswoman for Royal Caribbean Cruises, Melissa Charbonneau, said in a statement Friday that the girl’s death was “undeniably a heartbreaking tragedy that has prompted a criminal prosecution of Chloe’s step-grandfather and a civil lawsuit brought by the Wiegand family attorneys.”

Investigators look at the scene after Chloe died. Source: CBS

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