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Indiana grandfather receives 3 years' probation in Puerto Rico cruise ship death

Incident happened in July 2019
Chloe and Sam.jpg
Posted at 1:41 PM, Feb 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-08 17:12:56-05

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A grandfather who pleaded guilty to negligent homicide in the fall of his young granddaughter from an 11th-story window of a cruise ship docked in Puerto Rico was sentenced Monday to three years’ probation, according to justice officials.

Salvatore “Sam” Anello, of Valparaiso, Indiana, had pleaded guilty in the case in October 2020. Defense attorney Michael Winkleman has said Anello would serve probation in his home state.

Anello was aboard the Royal Caribbean Cruises’ Freedom of the Seas ship with family in July 2019 when the death occurred. He has said he did not know the window in the children’s play area was open and that he lifted 18-month-old Chloe Wiegand up to it so she could knock on the glass as she had done at her brother’s hockey games.

The girl’s parents sued Royal Caribbean in a civil case that is still ongoing.

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Anello issued the following statement:

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. You can’t go into a single hotel or building anywhere in the United States where windows this high up would be allowed to be opened more than a few inches. Yet on this cruise ship, Royal Caribbean allowed this window to be opened by anyone, at any time, right next to a kid’s water park. 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. That is why Royal Caribbean deserves the blame here. 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, where we can make a real difference for the safety of the youngest cruise passengers by working to force Royal Caribbean to follow the rules and laws that require windows like this to open no more than a few inches. If these rules were followed when we were on that ship, Chloe would still be alive today. I miss you so much Chloe.