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Grandfather who ‘dropped toddler 150ft to her death’ on cruise ship arrives at court in Puerto Rico

The grandfather accused of dropping toddler Chloe Weigand from the 11th deck of a cruise ship arrived at his first court appearance in Puerto Rico on Wednesday to answer a charge of negligent homicide.

Salvatore ‘Sam’ Anello faces three years in prison if he’s found guilty of causing Chloe’s death by lifting her towards an open window before she tumbled from the Freedom of the Seas ship while it docked in San Juan on July 7.

The elderly IT worker, wearing a pinstripe black suit and checkered tie, declined to comment as he arrived at San Juan Superior Court for what is scheduled to be a trial before a judge. Legals sources say however that his lawyer will ask for the case to be postponed.

Negligent homicide is a misdemeanor under the Puerto Rican penal code however it is punishable by a minimum of three years in prison.

Salvatore ‘Sam’ Anello, who is accused of dropping his toddler granddaughter Chloe Weigand from the 11th deck of a cruise ship in July, arrived at his first court appearance in Puerto Rico on Wednesday to answer a charge of negligent homicide

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

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

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)

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) 

Anello’s 18-month-old granddaughter Chloe died instantly when she plunged 150ft on to a concrete dock on this summer.

Her parents Alan and Kimberly Weigand did not accompany Anello to court on Wednesday but they 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 clear pane had been slid open.

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.

Chloe and her granddad had been about to embark on a seven-night Caribbean cruise with her parents, older brother, fraternal grandparents and Anello’s wife Patricia.

The fun-packed family vacation was supposed take in the sights of San Juan, St Maarten, St Kitts, Antigua, St Lucia and Barbados.

But the first signal their trip had gone horrifically wrong came at around 4:30pm on July 7 when passengers in a dining area overlooking a pool heard screams.

In the wake of the tragedy, Anello was described by friends and family as a proud and loving grandparent who doted over Chloe (pictured together)

In the wake of the tragedy, Anello was described by friends and family as a proud and loving grandparent who doted over Chloe (pictured together) 

Chloe's parents Alan and Kimberly Weigand (pictured) did not accompany Anello to court on Wednesday but they 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

Chloe’s parents Alan and Kimberly Weigand (pictured) did not accompany Anello to court on Wednesday but they 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

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

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

Chloe’s mom arrived moments later and broke down as she looked over the side and saw her daughter lying motionless on the concrete dock below.

Doctors stationed on board the 15-deck ship raced to save the toddler but she was declared dead at the scene having suffered suspected blunt force trauma to her head consistent with a fall.

‘When they told me Chloe had died, I didn’t know she went out a window,’ Kimberly, 36, said in an interview with Today.

‘I just saw Sam standing next to the wall of windows, screaming and banging on it and there was like somebody trying to stop me. I just kept saying, ”Take me to my baby. Where is my baby?”

‘I didn’t know she had gone out the window. Then I looked over, and it wasn’t water beneath, it was concrete. To lose our baby this way is just unfathomable.

‘I never want another mother to have to experience what I had to, to see what I had to see or scream or how I had to scream.’

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.

They found the area had been busy but didn’t obtain any first person accounts, with fellow passengers seemingly distracted by the pool, drinks and vacation plans.

Officers did however obtain critical video footage from the Freedom of the Seas on-board camera system which was described as ‘definitive’ by police sources.

In the wake of the tragedy, Anello was described by friends and family as a proud and loving grandparent who doted over Chloe.

The elderly IT worker, wearing a pinstripe black suit and checkered tie, declined to comment as he arrived at San Juan Superior Court for what is scheduled to be a trial before a judge. Legals sources say however that his lawyer will ask for the case to be postponed

The elderly IT worker, wearing a pinstripe black suit and checkered tie, declined to comment as he arrived at San Juan Superior Court for what is scheduled to be a trial before a judge. Legals sources say however that his lawyer will ask for the case to be postponed

'He was extremely hysterical. The thing he repeatedly told us was, I believed there was glass. He would cry, over and over,' Chloe's mother said of Anello (right in court with his lawyer)

‘He was extremely hysterical. The thing he repeatedly told us was, I believed there was glass. He would cry, over and over,’ Chloe’s mother said of Anello (right in court with his lawyer)

Puerto Rican officials insisted a range of charges, from neglect to murder, remained in play but her parents said they didn’t blame Anello, insisting the cruise operator should be held accountable instead.

‘He was extremely hysterical. The thing he repeatedly told us was, I believed there was glass. He would cry, over and over,’ Kimberly told Today.

The couple said they intended to take legal action against Royal Caribbean, saying the firm was ‘obviously’ to blame for Chloe’s death.

‘There are a million things that could have been done to make that safer,’ added Chloe’s grieving dad Alan, 40.

‘Why on earth is a window open on the 11th floor without a screen or anything? Their answer was ”we need ventilation”.’

To date no lawsuit has been filed against Royal Caribbean but their US-based attorney Michael Winkleman predicts that will change because police will finally have to hand over on board CCTV tapes now they are being entered into evidence.

He told DailyMail.com he plans to use those tapes as the basis of the family’s suit.

Royal Caribbean has described Chloe’s death as a ‘tragic incident’.

The world’s biggest cruise operator declined to comment further, referring inquiries to Puerto Rican authorities. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk



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