Child Falls Off Cruise Ship To Death; Grandfather Arrested

Nora Toscano, Reporter

Eighteen-month-old Chloe Wiengand fell out of a cruise ship window docked in Puerto Rico, resulting in her death, during her family’s vacation in July.  Salvatore Anello, her grandfather, who had been holding her up to a seemingly shut window on the eleventh story of the ship when she fell, has recently been charged with negligent homicide by Puerto Rican officials.  Anello had been with Chloe in the play area on the cruise ship and hoisted her up to the window so she could bang on it, much like she liked to bang on the glass at her brother’s hockey games. The window looked closed and safe to Anello, so he was shocked and horrified to watch his granddaughter fall through the window and plummet to her death.   

There is some controversy over whether or not Anello should be charged.  On one hand, he was not aware that the window was open, and what happened was obviously unintentional.  On the other hand, wouldn’t any reasonable person check if the window was closed before holding a baby up to it? As stated by Daniel Blinka, a Marquette University Law School professor, “With cases like this, you stand in front of the jury and make it very clear that ‘look, we are not saying grandpa intended to harm this child, never mind kill the child. What we are saying is what he did is so careless that no one in his position had any business lifting this child up. Essentially the issue becomes grandpa did something that was both tragic and stupid and the issue is whether that stupid act that resulted in a child’s death should result in his criminal conviction.”  

Chloe’s parents don’t blame Anello for their daughter’s death, so his prosecution on top of losing a child doubles the pain.  Anello’s case brings up the question that has been asked by lawyers millions of times: Should caregivers be charged for accidents that happened when a child was under their care?

Chloe’s family is attempting to sue the cruise ship, saying they shouldn’t have an open window in a child’s play area or there should at least be a sign.  Her mother said to NBC, “I never want another mother to have to experience this or to see what I had to see or to scream how I had to scream.” Anello is being held for $80,000 bond and will appear in court on November 20.