Family Photo via Atty Michael Winkleman(NEW YORK) — The grandfather accused of dropping his granddaughter from an 11th floor window of a cruise ship docked in Puerto Rico last year is accepting a plea deal.
Salvatore Anello had lifted his 18-month-old granddaughter Chloe Wiegand onto a wood railing on the Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas when the toddler fell to her death.
Defense attorney Jose Perez told ABC News last week that Anello didn’t want a plea deal, saying, “He is firm that he is innocent.”
Anello, however, agreed to change his plea to guilty to put the matter to rest, 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 said.
Chloe, who was traveling with her parents from their home in Indiana, was with her grandfather in the children’s water park play area when her grandfather placed her on the wood railing, which was in front of a wall of glass windows, according to Winkleman.
Winkleman said the grandfather put Chloe on the railing thinking she’d bang on the glass. However, the window was open and she was “gone,” Winkleman said in July, calling Chloe’s death a “tragic accident that was preventable.”
The family wants to raise awareness of the need for all common carriers to adhere to window fall prevention laws to prevent similar falls, Winkleman said.
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