Salvatore Anello, the man who pleaded guilty last year in connection with his 1-year-old granddaughter's fatal fall from a cruise ship, has been sentenced to three years of probation, Puerto Rican authorities announced Monday. Anello was in the death of Chloe Wiegand, who fell more than 100 feet from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship window in July 2019.
Wiegand fell from the docked ship after Anello held her up against what he said he believed was a set of closed windows and she slipped from his hands. Surveillance video obtained by CBS News showed the moments before the fatal fall, in which Wiegand ran to the windows with Anello trailing behind her. Anello could then be seen picking her up and holding her over the railing.
Anello repeatedly said that he only held her up because he believed there was glass, and that he never would have done so otherwise.
"At the moment the accident happened, it was as if this wall of protective glass disappeared," he previously told CBS News. "I was in complete disbelief ... I wasn't drinking and I wasn't dangling her out of a window. I just wanted to knock on the glass with her as we did together so many times before ... I was placed in charge of keeping my beautiful granddaughter safe and I failed."
Wiegand's family did not press charges. But he was charged with negligent homicide by prosecutors in Puerto Rico, where the ship was docked at the time of Wiegand's death.
Anello originally pleaded not guilty to the charges. But after months of legal battles,in October 2020.
"This decision was an incredibly difficult one for Sam and the family, but because the plea agreement includes no jail time and no admission of facts, it was decided the plea deal is in the best interests of the family so that they can close this horrible chapter and turn their focus to mourning Chloe and fighting for cruise passenger safety," the family's attorney said at the time.
Wiegand's family has sued Royal Caribbean, alleging the company failed to "provide reasonably safe children entertainment areas, including reasonably safe windows." An attorney for the family previously told CBS News that the ship did not meet safety regulations and should have been equipped with fall prevention window guards, screens and a device that would have kept the window from opening more than four inches. The company denies the allegations.
David Begnaud contributed reporting.
for more features.