The grieving family of Chloe Wiegand is standing next to her grandfather, despite Puerto Rican authorities accusing him of negligent murder for letting the toddler die from the 11th deck of a cruise ship, DailyMail.com can exclusively reveal.
Salvatore & # 39; Sam & # 39; Anello faces three years in prison for being found guilty of causing the death of angelic Chloe by lifting her to an open window before she tumbled out of the Freedom of the Sea while he docked in San Juan.
The 18-month-old girl died immediately after she was dumped 150 ft on a concrete dock, but a lawyer for her parents told DailyMail.com that the murder charge has not changed the view that Royal Caribbean is to blame for the tragedy of 7 July.
Lawyer Michael Winkleman also asked questions about the integrity of the Puerto Rican prosecutors and suggested that she might have a & # 39; ulterior motive & # 39; to point the finger at Anello instead of criticizing the world's largest operator of cruise lines.
Salvatore & # 39; Sam & # 39; Anello was accused of negligent murder on Monday for the death of his eighteen-month-old granddaughter Chloe Wiegand. The toddler died after holding her against a window on the 11th floor of the cruise ship without realizing it was open
The girl's parents, Alan Wiegand, a 41-year-old police officer from Indiana, and his lawyer wife Kimberly (left) 36, were on another part of the cruise ship at that time. They are at Anello and are planning to sue the liner because they are & # 39; inexplicable & # 39; leave a window open in a playroom
& # 39; It's hard not to think that much of this is for the show or for some sort of ulterior motive, & # 39; Winkleman told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview.
& # 39; I have no evidence to support this, it's just my working theory. But what surprised me was that an attempt had been made to continue this matter in an attempt to help Royal Caribbean. & # 39;
Chloe & # 39; s mother Kimberly, 36, and South Bend, Indiana police officer father Alan, 41, have vowed to prosecute Royal Caribbean for the & # 39; inexplicable & # 39; leaving a window in a family playground.
They insist that Anello lifted Chloe up so that she could hit the glass as she liked at her older brother's ice hockey games, unaware of the fact that the window had been opened.
Winkleman said the civilian action of the family has been hampered so far by both Puerto Rican police and Royal Caribbean who refused to hand over CCTV footage that captured the moment Chloe went overboard, citing the & # 39; pending investigation & # 39 ;.
However, that is likely to change now that Anello's criminal lawyers in San Juan are entitled to copies of the evidence.
The older IT employee was interrogated by the police in the hours after the fall of Chloe, but left San Juan without making a formal witness statement, blaming confusion, his extreme distress and the absence of an interpreter.
Chloe, 18 months, died immediately after a fall from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on July 7, 2019
A diagram that shows how the girl fell 150 feet from the 11th deck of the ship to the hard ground
The toddler fell out of a window on the 11th deck – above the balconies – on the Freedom of the Seas before he left
The window on the far left is the window through which Chloe fell while being held against her railing by her grandfather. The others seem to have handles with which they can be opened. This photo was taken by Chloe & # 39; s father after the accident
Winkleman said that Anello voluntarily returned to Puerto Rico this week after a judge issued an arrest warrant.
He was told on Monday during a short court hearing that there was a likely reason to accuse him of negligent murder.
The crime is a crime according to the Puerto Rican penal code, but it is punishable with a minimum of three years in prison.
Judge Jimmy Sepulveda of the San Juan Investigations Chamber set bail at $ 80,000.
Anello will be able to return to the US once he has posted a bond prior to a preliminary hearing on November 20, Winkleman added.
& # 39; They (the Puerto Rican authorities) use the term negligently. That means we know he wasn't going to. But apparently they think negligence is rising to a criminal level, & he said.
& # 39; I understand that nothing has really changed regarding the position of the family about Sam's position, that it was an accident and that he thought it was a wall of windows.
& # 39; He didn't know the window was open. He puts her on a railing and thinks there was a window there and lets her go or loses her grip for a moment and she is gone. & # 39;
Chloe and her grandfather were about to embark on a seven-night Caribbean cruise with her parents, older brother, fraternal grandparents, and Anello's wife, Patricia.
Alan and Kimberly Wiegand appeared TODAY after the tragedy to talk about their sadness about their daughter Chloe
Witnesses said that Chloe was a & # 39; blood-curdling & # 39; shout when she fell on a concrete dock. She was detained by her grandfather Salvatore & # 39; Sam & # 39; Anello (right)
Chloe, the family said, & # 39; radiated love & # 39; and & # 39; loved people & # 39 ;. Her parents said her first word & # 39; hello & # 39; used to be
The fun family vacation would visit the sights of San Juan, St. Maarten, St. Kitts, Antigua, St. Lucia and Barbados.
But the first signal that their journey had gone terribly wrong came at 7:30 am on July 7 when passengers heard screams in a dining area overlooking a swimming pool.
Chloe & # 39; s mother arrived a little later and broke when she looked over the side and saw her daughter immobile on the concrete Pan American dock below.
Doctors stationed aboard the 15-deck ship ran to rescue the toddler, but she was declared dead on the spot after she had probably had a blunt force on her head consistent with a fall.
& # 39; When they told me that Chloe had died, I didn't know she was coming out of the window, & # 39; said Kimberly, 36, in an interview with Today.
& # 39; I saw Sam standing right next to the wall of windows, screaming and banging on it and there was someone trying to stop me. I kept saying: & # 39; Take me to my baby. Where is my baby? & # 39;
& # 39; I didn't know she had left the window. Then I looked around and it was no water under it, it was concrete. Losing our baby in this way is simply incomprehensible.
& # 39; I never want another mother to experience what I had to see, to see what I had to see or shout or how to shout. & # 39;
Forensic experts studied the windows, furniture and layout of the boat after the accident for clues about how the child could have gone overboard.
They discovered that the area had been busy, but had not obtained first person accounts, with fellow passengers apparently distracted by the pool, drinks, and vacation plans.
The fun family vacation had to include the sights of San Juan, St. Maarten, St. Kitts, Antigua, St. Lucia and Barbados
However, officers have obtained critical video footage from the Freedom of the Seas camera system that police sources like & # 39; final & # 39; was described.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, Anello was praised by friends and family as a proud and loving grandparent who went back and forth over his beloved blonde hair Chloe.
Puerto Rican officials insisted that a series of charges, from neglect to murder, remain in play, but her parents said they had not blamed him, insisted that the cruise operator should be held responsible instead.
& # 39; He was extremely hysterical. What he repeatedly told us was that I believed there was glass. He would cry again and again, & Kimberly told Today.
The couple said they were planning to take legal action against Royal Caribbean, and said the company & # 39; clearly & # 39; was guilty of Chloe's death.
& # 39; There are a million things that could have been done to make it safer, & # 39; Chloe & # 39; s grieving father added Alan, 40.
& # 39; Why on earth is there a window open on the 11th floor without a screen or something? Their response was & # 39; we need ventilation & # 39 ;.
To date, no lawsuit has been brought against Royal Caribbean.
"This was a tragic incident, and out of respect for the privacy of the family, we refer you to authorities for further comment," their spokeswoman DailyMail.com told Monday evening.
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