UPDATE: Grandfather of toddler who fell out cruise ship window charged with manslaughter
UPDATE: Authorities have arrested the grandfather of the 18-month-old toddler who fell out a Royal Caribbean cruise ship window during the Indiana family's trip in July.
Puerto Rico's Justice Department ordered the arrest of Salvatore Anello on Monday, and he faces a charge of negligent manslaughter in the death of his granddaughter, Chloe Wiegand, according to NBC New York. Anello placed Chloe near an open window he thought was closed when her family said she fell out of the ship's 11th story in July.
"These criminal charges are pouring salt on the open wounds of this grieving family," said Michael Winkleman at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman P.A., who is representing the family in planned civil suit. "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."
Chloe's parents, Alan and Kimberly Wiegand, said they didn't understand why there would be an open window so high up on the ship and that the cruise line created "a tremendous safety hazard that cost our child her life."
Chloe's mother defended Anello in an interview with Today, explaining that he often held Chloe up to the glass at her older brother's hockey game so she could bang on the glass. Kimberly Wiegand insisted that the grandfather has never put her children in danger.
"He was extremely hysterical,'' she told NBC News' Savannah Guthrie in July. "The thing that he has repeatedly told us is, 'I believed that there was glass.' He will cry over and over and over."
She said that Anello was extremely distraught over the accident.
"You can barely look at him without him crying," Kimberly Wiegand. "She was his best friend."
Royal Caribbean said in a statement at the time that it was saddened by the incident and working with authorities in San Juan in the investigation into Chloe's death.
A spokeswoman for the cruise line on Monday said in a statement that it would have no further comment. "This was a tragic incident, and out of respect for the family’s privacy, we refer you to authorities for further comment."
Anello is being held on bond at $80,000 and is next scheduled to appear in court Nov. 20, according to the Associated Press.
PREVIOUS STORY: An American toddler fell to her death on Sunday from the deck of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico, a spokesman for the local Port Authority said.
The 18-month-old girl was playing with her grandfather in a dining hall on deck 11 of the Freedom of the Seas, Port Authority spokesman José Carmona said. The dining area has large windows, and one pane was open.
The grandfather sat the girl in the window and lost his balance, and the girl fell to her death. "Sadly, she died on impact," Carmona said.
The toddler's father is a police officer in South Bend, Indiana, according to the South Bend Police Department. The department tweeted "its sincerest condolences" to the officer and his family "during this difficult time following the tragic loss of their child while in Puerto Rico." The department also asked the community to pray for and to respect the privacy of the entire family.
The girl had traveled to San Juan from the mainland with her parents, siblings and four grandparents. They had recently boarded the ship, which can carry more than 4,500 passengers, including crew.
The ship was scheduled to depart for a weeklong voyage at 8:30 p.m. Sunday; the fall happened about 5 p.m., according to Carmona.
"We are deeply saddened by yesterday's tragic incident, and our hearts go out to the family," Royal Caribbean Cruises said. "We've made our Care Team available to assist the family with any resources they need. Out of respect for their privacy, we do not plan to comment further on the incident."
Local police are still investigating the incident, which preliminarily has been determined to be an accident, Carmona said. The girl's body was taken to a forensic unit in San Juan.
Falls from cruise ships are not unheard-of. On Thursday, a Carnival Victory crew member was seen falling overboard about 30 miles northwest of Cuba.
The US Coast Guard searched for the 37-year-old man but failed to find him after more than 45 hours and so suspended the effort.
The Coast Guard does not estimate the total number of falls from ship decks each year, spokesman Jonathan Lally said. Still, "every cruise ship has a safety plan," and "they are required to give a safety brief," he said. The Coast Guard "strongly advises" passengers who board ships to follow all safety rules and plans.
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