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Indiana Grandfather Charged With Negligent Homicide After 18-Month-Old Girl Fell From Cruise Ship Window

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (CBS/AP) -- An Indiana man was charged with negligent homicide on Monday, after his 18-month-old granddaughter fell from a cruise ship docked in Puerto Rico this past summer.

Authorities on Monday charged Salvatore Anello, 50, after his granddaughter, Chloe Wiegand, fell when he raised her up to an open window on July 7.

As CBS 2's Jermont Terry reported, Anello was handcuffed and taken to jail in Puerto Rico. But his family has always maintained it was an accident.

Salvatore Anello
Salvatore Anello is charged with negligence homicide in the death of his 18-month-old granddaughter, who fell from a cruise ship. (Credit: Policia de Puerto Rico)

The Puerto Rico Police Bureau said in a statement that Chloe – who was the daughter of a South Bend police officer - landed in the void next to a pan-American dock after falling from the 11th floor of Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas ship.

Attorney Michael Winkelman expressed disappointment with the charges and said Royal Caribbean cruises was really to blame.

"These criminal charges are pouring salt on the open wounds of this grieving family. Clearly this was a tragic accident and the family's singular goal remains for something like this to never happen again," Winkelman said in a statement. "Had the cruise lines simply followed proper safety guidelines for windows, this accident likely would never have happened."

Winkelman added, "Also Royal Caribbean has still not given us the opportunity to view surveillance video they have of the incident. We intend to file a lawsuit very shortly."

Winkelman earlier said Chloe asked her grandfather to lift her up so she could bang on the glass in a children's play area. He blamed the cruise ship company for leaving the window inexplicably open with no glass.

"He thought it was all glass," Winkleman said in July. "There's a wood railing right there. He puts her up on there, thinks she's going to bang on the glass and it's going to be great. She goes to bang on the glass and the next thing you know, she's gone."

Winkleman said Chloe would always bang on the glass at her brother's hockey games.

Following Chloe's death, Anello was overcome with guilt as his family insisted it was all an accident. But officials in Puerto Rico spent three months investigating his death.

There was always the possibility that Anello, of Valparaiso, could be charged.

He was being held on $80,000 bond late Monday and is scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 20.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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