Great Britain

Cruise death grandfather who dropped toddler says he wants to ‘end the nightmare for my family’ in guilty plea letter

A DEVASTATED grandpa who mistakenly dropped an 18-month-old toddler from a cruise ship window has revealed he is pleading guilty over the tragedy to help end the "nightmare."

Salvatore Anello, from Indiana, has penned an emotional letter saying he will do whatever is needed to help his family move forward following the horror death of his granddaughter.

He has now has filed documents in a court in Puerto Rico to plead guilty to a charge of negligent homicide following the death of Chloe Wiegand.

Family lawyer Michael Winkleman said his client is not expected to face any prison time over the death and will serve his probation in Indiana.

The attorney said the deal "is in the best interests of the family so that they can close this horrible chapter and turn their focus to mourning Chloe".

Anello - also known as Sam - had initially pleaded not guilty to the charge after the death of Chloe in July.

However he has now revealed: “I took a plea deal to try to help end part of this nightmare for my family, if possible.

"The support they continue to give me has been beyond overwhelming and I can’t tell you how grateful I am for them.”

Speaking about the incident, he added in his moving statement: "It was a nightmare of the likes I could never have imagined before.

"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 just so horribly wrong about our surroundings.

"I was placed in charge of keeping my beautiful granddaughter safe and I failed.

"It will always be a constant nightmare every day and every night for the rest of my life."

Mr Anello also expressed his "deepest gratitude" to the "kind people" who have prayed for him and his family.

"They have really been a crucial source for all of us to draw strength from and it has been a blessing," he said.

Chloe's devastated parents are suing Royal Caribbean in a separate suit for unlimited damages after earlier pleading with Puerto Rican authorities to stop the case against Anello.

Alan, 41, and Kimberly Wiegand, 37 - who were given permission to sue the cruise line for unlimited damages by a judge -  say they know with “all their hearts”  Anello could not be criminally responsible.

They blame the cruise authorities, saying there were no warning signs indicating the "wall of glass" Chloe was leaning against could open.

Alan, who is a cop, and his lawyer wife could claim "unlimited" damages for pain and mental suffering if their Miami lawsuit is a success.

The little girl's parents say all they want is to make windows safer on the liner so their daughter's death never happens again.

Royal Caribbean have tried to argue grandfather Anello was the sole person responsible in Chloe’s death, it's been reported.

They showed harrowing footage of Chloe's last living moments to try and prove Anello “unquestionably” knew the window was open as he held Chloe out of it for 34 seconds.

The granddad had lifted up little Chloe to let her bang on the glass as she often did at her brother's hockey games on July 7, 2019 as the ship was docked.

Tragically, Chloe fell through an opening of the window that could be slid open, crashing down 150 feet to her death.

Royal Caribbean alleged that blue-green tinted handles on the windows would have clearly indicated the window was open.

However, Anello has said he is color blind and therefore wasn't aware the window was open.

Devastating video footage was released showing Chloe's last moments as Anello lifted her, moments before a doctor found the lifeless child "face down" on the concrete below.

Court documents show Dr Marcel Alexander Armand Van Drunick revealed the distraught grandfather told him he thought the window was closed minutes after Chloe slipped out of his grasp.

In an exclusive interview with CBS, Anello earlier said: "There's nothing worse that they could do to me than what's already happened."

Video footage shows the moment Salvatore Anello dropped Chloe Wiegand from a Royal Caribbean ship in San Juan, Puerto Rico

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