Twist in toddler’s cruise ship death charge
A grandfather has pleaded guilty to charges in his granddaughter's death, after the 18-month-old fell 45m from the window of a cruise ship last year.
Salvatore Anello pleaded guilty to negligent homicide in the death of Chloe Wiegand on Thursday, NBC reported.
The grandfather had been in charge of watching his granddaughter on July 7, 2019, when he lifted her up so she could bang on the glass as she did at her brother's hockey games.
The little toddler fell through a window opening that could be slid open as the ship was docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
She plunged 11 decks, 45m down from the cruise ship window, and died.
Anello pleaded guilty in Puerto Rico on Thursday, the South Bend Tribune reported.
Although the family had not wanted Anello to face charges, family lawyer Michael Winkleman said in a statement that the plea will allow the family to move on, NBC reported.
Mr Winkleman said: "It was decided the plea deal is in the best interests of the family so that they can close this horrible chapter."
Mr Winkleman said the deal means Anello will not serve jail time, NBC reported.
Anello will be able to serve probation in his home state of Indiana, his lawyer said.
The grandfather will be sentenced on December 10, NBC reported.
Last July, Anello pleaded not guilty, and rejected a plea deal in December.
In February, however, he wrote an emotional letter saying he would do whatever is necessary to end the nightmare for the family.
The grandfather then filed documents that month to change his plea to guilty.
"I took a plea deal to try to help end part of this nightmare for my family, if possible," he said in a statement.
"The support they continue to give me has been beyond overwhelming and I can't tell you how grateful I am for them."
Cruise company Royal Caribbean claimed tinted handles on the windows would have indicated that it was open.
The granddad, however, said he is colour blind and therefore did not see that the window was open.
Chloe's parents, Alan, 41, and Kimberly Wiegand, 37, are suing Royal Caribbean for unlimited damages in a separate suit.
The couple have remained supportive of Chloe's grandfather throughout the legal process.
Mr Winkleman said in a statement the family is going to keep fighting the cruise line, the South Bend Tribune reported.
"We will continue the fight for justice for Chloe and to hold Royal Caribbean accountable for its brazen failure to follow the standards designed precisely to prevent children from falling out of windows."
Royal Caribbean released a statement at the time of the tragedy, extending their sympathies for the family.
"We are deeply saddened by (the) tragic incident, and our hearts go out to the family," the cruise line said.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and has been republished with permission
Originally published as Twist in toddler's cruise ship death charge