Chloe Wiegand

Grandfather Pleads Guilty in Granddaughter's Puerto Rico Cruise Ship Death

Salvatore “Sam” Anello pleads guilty to negligent homicide, sentencing set for Dec. 10

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What to Know

  • Salvatore “Sam” Anello pleaded guilty Thursday to negligent homicide in the death of granddaughter Chloe Wiegand
  • Wiegand slipped from his grasp and fell about 150 feet from an open window of Royal Caribbean Cruises’ Freedom of the Seas ship in Puerto Rico in July 2019
  • Anello is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 10

A grandfather accused in the fatal fall of his young granddaughter from an 11th-story window of a cruise ship docked in Puerto Rico last year pleaded guilty Thursday to negligent homicide.

Salvatore “Sam” Anello of Valparaiso, Indiana, said earlier this year that he would drop a not-guilty plea to help end what he called “this nightmare” for his family. Eighteen-month-old Chloe Wiegand slipped from his grasp and fell about 150 feet from an open window of Royal Caribbean Cruises’ Freedom of the Seas ship in July 2019.

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Chloe Wiegand

Puerto Rico prosecutor Laura Hernández said Anello would be sentenced Dec. 10.

“We have found justice for Chloe,” she said.

Anello’s attorney, Michael Winkleman, did not immediately return a message for comment.

Anello, 51, has repeatedly said he did not know the window in the children’s play area was open and that he lifted Chloe up to it so she could knock on the glass like she had done at her brother’s hockey games.

Salvatore "Sam" Anello leaves court on Oct. 29, 2019, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Anello pled guilty to negligent homicide in the death of his 18-month-old granddaughter, Chloe, after she fell from a window on a cruise ship docked in Puerto Rico.
Telemundo Puerto Rico
Salvatore "Sam" Anello leaves court on Oct. 29, 2019, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Anello pled guilty to negligent homicide in the death of his 18-month-old granddaughter, Chloe, after she fell from a window on a cruise ship docked in Puerto Rico.

“I wasn’t drinking and I wasn’t dangling her out of a window,” he said in a previous statement. He said he is colorblind and might not have realized the tinted window was open.

The girl’s parents sued Royal Caribbean last year and accused the company of negligence. In response, Royal Caribbean said that surveillance video shows Anello leaning out the window for about eight seconds before lifting the girl by and out of the open window for 34 seconds before he lost his grip. The family said it would have been physically impossible for Anello to lean out like that.

AP Photo/Mike Derer
FILE - This May 11, 2006 file photo shows the Freedom of the Seas cruise ship docked in Bayonne, N.J.

Royal Caribbean did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

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