A grandfather facing prison for the death of his toddler granddaughter who fell 150ft from his arms out of an open window on a cruise ship said he did not realize it was open because he is colorblind.
Salvatore Anello is facing trial in Puerto Rico for the death of his 18-month-old granddaughter Chloe Wiegand who plunged to her death in July out of an open window on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.
He was holding her up to the window when she ‘slipped’ and is now being charged with negligent homicide.
In an interview with CBS This Morning on Tuesday, Anello buckled into sobs and wailed as he said there was nothing prosecutors could do to him that would be more painful than his grief.
He also said the reason he did not realize the tinted window was open was that he is colorblind.
‘I am color blind so that’s something that … I don’t know. I just never saw it. I’ve been told that’s a reason it may have happened,’ he said.
He appeared indifferent to the looming criminal trial in Puerto Rico, and said: ‘Chloe being gone is the worst thing ever so I’m like whatever.
‘You know. I don’t know… there’s nothing worse that they could do to me than what’s already happened…. Whether they find me guilty or not it’s inconsequential.’
Salvatore Anello wailed and had to be comforted as he filmed an interview for CBS This Morning about his granddaughter Chloe’s death
‘I remember trying to find her on the floor and then I saw her fall, I saw her fall, I saw her fall and I was just in disbelief,’ the Indiana grandfather said, choking on tears, in his CBS interview. Anello pictured above holding baby Chloe
Chloe’s family maintain Anello lifted Chloe up so she could bang on the glass, as she loved to do at her older brother’s ice hockey games, unaware the clear pane had been slid open (pictured). Prosecutors say it is impossible he was unaware it was open and negligent of him to hold her up to her. He says he is colorblind and did not notice the difference between the open windows and closed windows
The window on the far left is the one Chloe fell through on Sunday while being held against the railing by her grandfather. The others appear to have handles which allow them to be slid open This photograph was taken by Chloe’s father after the accident
He said he was holding Chloe up to the glass to allow her to bang on it – as she liked to do at ice hockey games – when she slipped.
He reenacted how he was holding her, demonstrating how he had one arm wrapped around her and one free to tap on the window himself.
Anello was leaning forward himself to try to tap the glass, he said, when she ‘slipped’.
‘All I know is I was trying to reach the glass.
‘We leaned over to try to have her reach the glass and at that point she slipped. She slipped. I didn’t realize there wasn’t any glass until it absolutely was too late.
‘Even when she first fell – I thought she fell in front of me. I thought she fell in front of me.
An interior view of the windows where Chloe fell shows their slight tint
‘It happened in seconds. I was trying to hold her like that – I had her and I was trying to knock on the glass and at that point was like I have to lean forward to reach it. That’s the point where she slipped out of me.
‘At no point during that whole incident did I think she fell out. It was like.. it was unbelievable.
‘It’s like the glass disappeared,’ he said.
He watched in horror and ‘disbelief’ as she plummeted 150ft to the concrete dock below.
Anello being comforted by CBS reporter David Begnaud during their interview. He will return to Puerto Rico in December
Forensic experts studied the boat’s windows, furniture and layout in the wake of the accident for clues as to how the child could have gone overboard
‘I saw her fall. I saw her fall the whole day down. I was just in disbelief.
‘I was like, “oh my god.” I just remember screaming that I thought there was glass,’ he said.
‘He insisted that he would never have put her in harm’s way, adding: ‘Not knowing that there wasn’t glass there. If I thought she was going beyond the glass, I wouldn’t have done it i would have been appalled.
Alan and Kimberly Wiegand, Chloe’s parents, have been steadfast in their support for the maternal grandfather, instead blaming and threatening to sue Royal Caribbean for ‘inexplicably’ leaving a window open in a family play area
‘I wouldn’t mess around with Chloe… if there was some kind of warning sign there we wouldn’t have been near it.
‘I don’t know what else to say. I don’t know what else to say,’ he said.
Chloe’s mother has asked Puerto Rican authorities to drop the case. They however are adamant that Anello acted recklessly.
lan and Kimberly Wiegand have been steadfast in their support for the maternal grandfather, instead blaming and threatening to sue Royal Caribbean for ‘inexplicably’ leaving a window open in a family play area.
They maintain Anello lifted Chloe up so she could bang on the glass as she loved to do at her older brother’s ice hockey games, unaware the pane had been slid open.
Puerto Rican authorities say they plan to use a handful of eyewitnesses as well as on-board CCTV footage of Chloe going overboard to prove Anello’s guilt when the case goes to trial.
But attorneys for Anello say the exact same footage – taken from two separate angles overlooking the pool area – exonerates the grieving granddad and proves it was simply a tragic accident.
Michael Winkleman, a US-based attorney representing Chloe’s parents in a legal action against Royal Caribbean, said they are not prepared to make the harrowing video public.
Anello is accused of lifting Chloe, 18 months, towards an open window before she tumbled 150ft to her death on to a concrete dock on July 7. She died on impact
But he did permit DailyMail.com to view the tape, which begins with Chloe leading her grandfather, wearing shorts and a T-shirt, away from the pool area seen in the photograph to the adjacent bank of glass floor to ceiling windows.
Anello can be seen moments later lifting Chloe up to give her a better view before he places her on a metal railing, still holding her with two hands as the pair lean forward to get a better view.
Three to four seconds later she vanishes through what is the only visibly open window in the entire bank of glass.
Anello looks down towards the dock below then slumps to his knees as staff and fellow passengers crowd round to help.
Chloe’s older brother is the next member of the family to arrive, and looks stunned and confused as he realizes what is happening.
Kimberly follows close behind, fighting through the crowd to gaze down from the window before recoiling in shock and collapsing in grief.
Moments later her police officer husband arrives and covers his face with his hands as he struggles to cope with what he’s seeing.
The video ends with Anello being led away by two members of staff, seemingly unable to stand or walk by himself.
He was quizzed by police in the hours after Chloe’s fall but left San Juan without giving a formal witness statement, blaming confusion, his extreme distress and the lack of an interpreter.
Anello voluntarily returned to Puerto Rico, however, when a judge issued an arrest warrant and he learned last month there was probable cause to charge him with negligent homicide.
Winkleman has accused Puerto Rican prosecutors of ‘pouring salt on the family’s open wounds’ by bringing a misdemeanor charge against him.