Indiana man will plead guilty in 18-month-old granddaughter’s death on cruise ship

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The grandfather of the northern Indiana toddler who died when she fell from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship will now plead guilty in her death.

Chloe Wiegand was 18-months-old when she died in July. Her grandfather, Salvatore Anello, was holding her near an 11th floor window of the ship when she fell.

Puerto Rican authorities charged him with negligent homicide in connection with her death.

But Anello said he didn’t realize the window was open, and his family—Chloe’s parents—stand behind him.

His case would have gone to trial in April, but his attorney filed a change of plea on Tuesday.

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Anello agreed to plead guilty, and as a result, he will avoid prison time. Instead, he will serve probation in South Bend, which is where he and his family live.

The family says this plea deal is difficult, but it’s in their best interests.

"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 by raising awareness about the need for all common carriers to adhere to window fall prevention laws designed to protect children from falling from windows." 

Michael Winkleman, attorney for Chloe's family

Additionally, the family is suing Royal Caribbean. They are accusing the cruise line of negligence by leaving that window open.

Royal Caribbean responded, and they say video evidence shows Anello knew the window was open. That lawsuit is separate from this plea deal and continues to move forward in federal court.

Winkleman said Anello’s plea agreement does not have any impact on the lawsuit

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