Grandfather whose granddaughter plunged off cruise ship deck is sentenced in Puerto Rico

David J. Neal
·2 min read

Grandfather Sam Anello, from whose hands his toddler granddaughter fell through an open cruise ship window to her death, was sentenced Monday in Puerto Rico to three years’ probation.

Anello, 52, will serve the probation in Indiana, where he and Chloe Wiegand’s family live.

The sentencing comes 346 days after Anello pleaded guilty to negligent homicide, and exactly 19 months — one month longer than Chloe lived — since her death on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas while it was docked in San Juan.

“This was a tragic incident, and our hearts go out to the family,” a Royal Caribbean spokesman said. “Out of respect for the family’s privacy during this very sad time, we have no further comment.”

A civil suit filed against Royal Caribbean by Chloe’s family is scheduled to go to trial April 26. Since the tragedy, the family has said Anello didn’t realize the windows on the 11th-floor water park deck were open. Chloe popped from his grasp when she threw herself against what she thought was glass and turned out to be air.

Royal Caribbean’s motion to dismiss, filed in January 2020, said surveillance video shows Anello knew the windows were open.

In a statement released through Miami-based law firm Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, which is handling the civil suit, Anello said, “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.”

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