Grandad charged in toddler cruise death
THE grandfather who allegedly dropped his young granddaughter from the 11th floor of a cruise ship docked in Puerto Rico has been charged.
Salvatore "Sam" Anello was on-board the cruise ship holding the 18-month-old when she fell through what his family called a hole among a "wall of windows" and onto the dock below.
It is alleged Mr Anello had held Chloe up to what he thought was a closed window to allow her to bang on the glass, a game she loved to play at home.
However, the pane of glass was an open window and she fell straight through.
A judge ordered the arrest of Mr Anello, who is facing a charge of negligent homicide. He is now being held on an $A116,000 bond and will appear in court on November 20.
At the time of the horror incident in July, Mr Anello blamed Royal Caribbean for failing to close the window inside the child's play area.
Chloe's mother, Kimberley Wiegand, was on-board the cruise ship with all three of their children and both sets of grandparents, including Kimberley's father who has now been charged.
The Wiegand family travelled from Indiana to cruise around the Southern Caribbean islands - a journey that started and ended in the harbourside town of San Juan in Puerto Rico, stopping at St Maarten, Dominica and even Barbados.
In the moments following the tragedy, witnesses heard a "cry of pain" and wails of agony from Mr Anello and several other family members on-board the ship.
According to local media outlet El Vocero, some were so hysterical after Chloe's death that they had to be sedated by medics.
Following the tragedy, questions around whether Mr Anello's negligence led to Chloe's death were quickly defused by the family, who appeared on the US version of Today in the weeks following the tragedy.
Mrs Wiegand and her police officer husband Alan spoke of their grief and horror during what was supposed to be the family holiday of a lifetime.
"I didn't know that she went out a window," she said through tears during the interview.
"I just saw Sam standing next to the wall of windows just screaming and banging on it. There was somebody from Royal Caribbean they kept trying to stop me. I just kept saying take me to my baby, where is my baby? I didn't even notice the window," she said.
"I looked over it and it wasn't water down there, it was concrete. Honestly to lose our baby this way is just unfathomable."