Attorney: Girl fell to death from open window on cruise ship

Erika Holt
July 10, 2019

The Indiana man whose 1-year-old granddaughter plunged to her death from a cruise ship could face criminal charges in the tragedy - as the family denies initial reports of the tot slipping from the man's grip.

According to Royal Caribbean, the "Freedom of the Seas" ship, which sails from San Juan, Puerto Rico, is "a long-standing favorite among cruise enthusiasts".

The family is looking into holding the cruise ship company accountable.

"She goes to bang on the glass like she would have at one of those hockey rinks, and the next thing you know, she's gone", said Miami-based attorney Michael Winkleman.

Winkleman noted that the Freedom of the Seas ship, which made its maiden voyage in 2006, is older, and none of the newer ships have similar windows that can be opened in the same way.

Anello held Chloe on the rail and she leaned forward to bang on the middle glass pane.

Authorities said on Monday that they are investigating whether to charge Anello with negligence for dropping the little girl, but his family isn't blaming him for Chloe's tragic death.

Chloe's grandfather, thinking she'd love to bang on the glass, brought her over to the windows and put her up on a wood railing, according to the attorney.

"We've all seen where someone walks into glass thinking there's nothing there", Winkleman said.

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He also said he's waiting on Royal Caribbean to release any surveillance video from the area.

Mr Winkleman told reporters the family felt "terrible", and that Mr Anello was "crying hysterically" when they spoke. "For Sam, he's going to have to live with that memory for the rest of his life", said Winkleman.

"Why in the world would you leave a window open in an entire glass wall full of windows in a kid's area?" he told Today.

"It was reasonable for [Anello] to believe there was glass there", Winkleman said, adding that the incident was preventable.

Winkleman questioned why Royal Caribbean didn't put a warning or indicator on the windows letting passengers know that they could be opened.

Local officials told El Vocero, a Puerto Rican newspaper, that Anello and Chloe's parents had to be sedated afterwards because they were so distraught.

In a statement to PEOPLE on Tuesday, the cruise line said it is "deeply saddened" by the incident.

Royal Caribbean's statement to United States media noted that the company has made a "Care Team available to assist the family with any resources they need".

Her family is still in Puerto Rico waiting for Chloe's body to be released, after which, they will return to in where her father, Alan Weigand, is a police officer with the South Bend Police Department. "Out of respect for their privacy, we do not plan to comment further on the incident", it said.

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