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Indiana man accused of dropping granddaughter from cruise ship to accept plea deal

Posted at 7:16 AM, Feb 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-26 13:14:19-05

PUERTO RICO — The grandfather accused of dropping his 18-month-old granddaughter from an 11th floor window of a cruise ship last year is accepting a plea deal.

Chloe Wiegand fell to her death in July 2019 after her grandfather lifted her to the window on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas ship while the vessel docked.

READ | Video proves grandfather who dropped girl from cruise ship knew window was open, cruise ship claims

Chloe's grandfather, Salvatore Anello, has been charged in Puerto Rico with negligent homicide. He insists he's colorblind and didn't know the 11th floor window in the children's play area was open. He said he believed he was lifting Chloe so that she could bang on the glass like at a hockey game.

Last week, ABC News reported that Anello did not want to take a plea deal. However, Anello has now agreed to change his plea to guilty so the family could move on, Attorney Michael Winkleman said.

"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, 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," Winkleman told ABC.

The date for Anello's change of plea hearing has not yet been sent.

The family plans to keep pushing for awareness and the need for cruise ships to adhere to window fall prevention laws to prevent similar falls.