A grandfather charged with allegedly dropping his toddler granddaughter from the 11th deck of a cruise ship has spoken of his crippling pain and grief.
Salvatore “Sam” Anello was holding 18-month-old Chloe Wiegand on board the Royal Caribbean cruise ship while it was docked in Puerto Rico.
He had held the toddler up to the ship’s window so she could bang on the glass, not realising the window was open, and she slipped from his arms.
Anello and the girl’s parents, Alan and Kimberly Wiegand, reportedly had to be sedated as they struggled to comprehend Chloe’s death.
Following the fatal incident in July, the grandfather was charged with negligent homicide.
On Wednesday (local time), Anello made a short court appearance after which he told NBC nothing “worse” could happen to him.
“They can’t do anything worse to me than has already happened,” he said.
A lawyer for the little girl’s family, who were planning to sue Royal Caribbean over her death, told CBS News they were shocked Puerto Rican prosecutors were holding her grandfather responsible.
“The family’s really not doing well. I think they’re really devastated by the fact that these charges have been filed and that this case continues to go forward,” Michael Winkleman told CBS.
“They’re shocked because they think it’s groundless… They certainly didn’t want charges to be filed.”
Earlier this year at a press conference, the lawyer said the family wanted to know why a window that "should have been closed securely" was open.
"Why in the world would you leave a window open in an entire glass wall full of windows in a kids’ area?" he said at the press conference.
Mr Winkleman said there were no warning signs the window was open and he would now work to hold the cruise company accountable for their alleged “negligence”.
In the wake of Chloe’s death, Royal Caribbean released a statement about the incident, saying they were "deeply saddened by [the] tragic incident and our hearts go out to the family".
"We’ve made our Care Team available to assist the family with any resources they need.”
They failed to address claims from Mr Winkleman of alleged negligence in relation to the open window.
Puerto Rico Ports Authority spokesman José Carmona told The Associated Press officials were investigating whether the window was already opened or if someone had opened it.
–– With AP
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