Cruise ship fall: Grandfather pleads guilty in granddaughter Chloe Wiegand’s death

A grandfather charged in connection with the death of his granddaughter after she fell from an open cruise ship window has pleaded guilty.

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Salvatore “Sam” Anello pleaded guilty Thursday to negligent homicide, The Associated Press reported.

Anello was holding his granddaughter, Chloe Wiegand, when she slipped from his hands, falling 150 feet from the open window onboard Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas ship while on vacation in July 2019.

Anello said he didn’t know the window that was located near the children’s play area was open. He had lifted her so she could bang on the glass as she had done at hockey games. Anello said he is colorblind and he couldn’t see the window’s tint, the AP reported.

Chloe’s parents had sued the cruise line, claiming the company was negligent. But surveillance video from Royal Caribbean showed Anello leaning out of the window before lifting his granddaughter near and out of the window for 34 seconds before she slipped. That case is still happening, the AP reported. The family said Anello could not have leaned out the window the way the video shows.

Anello’s attorney said in February that he was going to change his not guilty plea to guilty, CNN reported at the time.

“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,” attorney Michael Winkleman said in a statement obtained by CNN in February.

Anello will be sentenced Dec. 10 but won’t face jail time; rather he will serve probation in Indiana, the AP reported.