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"Utterly Crushed": Parents Of Toddler Who Fell From Cruise Ship Speak Out For First Time Since Grandpa's Arrest

grandfather charged in cruise ship death of toddler

It's been just over three months since the Weigand family dealt with the devastating loss of their 18-month-old daughter Chloe. The toddler fell to her death when her grandfather, Salvatore Anello, placed her on an 11th-floor railing of the Royal Caribbean cruise ship in a kid's play area, unaware that the window was open. Anello was recently charged with negligent homicide in the child's death, and now Chloe's parents are speaking out.

Anello, who is married to Chloe's maternal grandmother, is now facing up to three years in jail if convicted, NBC News reports, and news of his arrest has "fractured" the family, according to their lawyer, Michael Winkleman. The attorney told the news station that for Alan and Kimberly Wiegand, Chloe's parents, the charge was "like pouring salt on an open wound."

Winkelman went on to explain that the family is having a hard time dealing with the charges on top of losing their daughter. "The family is crushed. Utterly crushed," Winkleman said. "I think they were doing their best to really start the process of grieving for the months since the incident, since the tragedy happened and I think they were really doing their best to keep it together for their 11-year-old son."

Both Kimberly and Alan Wiegand have maintained that Royal Caribbean was at fault in Chloe's death, as they told The Today Show back 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?'" Kimberly said to Savannah Guthrie during their interview.

Puerto Rican authorities who were responsible for the charges against Anelle allege that the grandfather was negligent in exposing his granddaughter to the window she subsequently fell from. Winkelman told NBC News they wish to see any surveillance footage of the accident. "We know what Sam's version of the events were, and I have no reason to doubt what he said," Winkleman said. "Having said that, a picture is worth a thousand words and a video is worth 10,000 words."

Anello posted an $80,000 bond and will be seen in court on November 20.

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