The grandfather of an 18-month-old girl who fell out of a cruise ship window has avoided prison time.
Salvatore Anello from Indiana was sentenced to three years’ probation after the death of his granddaughter Chloe Wiegand, justice officials said.
Anello and his family were aboard the Royal Caribbean Cruises’ Freedom of the Seas on July 7, 2019, when it docked in Puerto Rico.
While in the children’s play area, the grandfather lifted Chloe up the window so she could bang on the glass but the young girl fell from the 11th deck of the cruise ship and died.
Anello initially pleaded not guilty and he was charged with negligent homicide. However, he changed his plea so his family could move on from the tragedy.
An attorney for the Wiegand family has said that the plea deal allowed the grandfather to avoid prison time and serve probation in his home state.
“This decision was an incredibly difficult one for Sam and the family but because the plea agreement includes no jail time and no admission of facts,” attorney Winkleman said in February 2020.
‘It was decided the plea deal is in the best interests of the family so that they can close this horrible chapter and turn their focus to mourning Chloe and fighting for cruise passenger safety by raising awareness about the need for all common carriers to adhere to window fall prevention laws designed to protect children from falling from windows.
In a statement following the sentencing, Anello said as per Daily Mail: “After this sentencing, I feel a mixture of anger and relief. Relief that I will serve no jail time and that I did not have to admit any facts. Relief for my family so that we can close this chapter and move on together.”
“I feel angry at Royal Caribbean because it is clear that these windows never should have been allowed to have been opened in the first place. I always thought this was a wall of glass. There was no indication to me that some of the glass panels in this wall of glass could even open.”
He continued: “I decided not to contest these charges, even though I know I committed no crime, because I would not have to admit any facts or suffer any significant penalty.
“It was a choice of focusing our resources and deciding the best path to tell Chloe’s story and devote our family’s energy was in the civil case.
“I miss you so much Chloe.”
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