Grandfather Charged in Cruise Ship Accident | Maritime Lawyers

Cruise ship death: Losing a family member is never easy.  It is even more difficult when the death is that of a toddler.  What’s worse?  When the death could have and should have been prevented.

This past summer Chloe Wiegand was traveling with her immediate and extended family – her parents, two siblings, and two sets of grandparents – when she lost her life.  The family was aboard the Freedom of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean ship, which was docked in San Juan on July 7th, following a weeklong cruise through the Caribbean.  Tragedy struck while the vessel was docked.

Chloe’s grandfather, Salvatore Anello, was playing with the little girl in the ship’s children’s play area.  Chloe allegedly asked her grandfather to lift her up so that she could bang on the glass as she does back home in Indiana when spending time at her brother’s hockey games.  Salvatore apparently did lift young Chloe to bang on the glass, but there was no glass there.  The cruise ship hadleft the window open, and the toddler fell to her death.

Chloe’s family has since vocalized that they do not hold Salvatore responsible, but rather, believe that the cruise company’s negligence cost Chloe her life.  San Juan Investigations Chamber Judge Jimmy Sepúlveda reached a different conclusion, ordering the arrest of the grandfather Monday.  Prosecutors submitted evidence to the Judge, stating that the 18-month year old Chloe fell only after Salvatore raised her to an open window, and as such Salvatore has now been charged with negligent manslaughter.

Salvatore Anello is being held on $80,000 bond, and is scheduled to appear in court on November 20th.  In the meantime the family’s attorney was quoted, “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.  Had the cruise lines simply followed proper safety guidelines for windows, this accident likely would never have happened.”  The family’s attorney is echoing much of what Chloe’s mother said on NBC’s Today show in July.

“We obviously blame them for not having a safer situation on the 11th floor of that cruise ship.  There are a million things that could’ve been done to make that safer.  I know my mom was asking people, ‘Why on earth is there a window open on the 11th floor without a screen or anything?’”

A spokeswoman for Royal Caribbean released a statement to NBC News, saying, “This was a tragic incident, and out of respect for the family’s privacy, we refer you to authorities for further comment.”

At any rate, there are many legal issues that are bound to arise in a cruise ship maritime matter like this.


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