Salvatore “Sam” Anello, the grandfather who accidentally dropped his toddler granddaughter off a cruise ship and to her death, has pled guilty to negligent homicide.
On Tuesday, February 25, Anello, 51, changed his plea and waived his right to a trial. His decision came one day after he declined his right to a jury trial in favor of one before a judge, ABC News reported. By agreeing to the plea deal, the heartbroken grandpa will avoid jail time.
As RadarOnline.com readers know, Anello has cooperated with authorities ever since the tragic death of his beloved 18-month-old granddaughter Chloe Wiegand on October 2019.
“This decision was an incredibly difficult one for Sam and the family,” Anello’s attorney said in a statement to ABC, adding that “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 so that they can close this horrible chapter and turn their focus to mourning Chloe and fighting for cruise passenger safety by raising awareness about the need for all common carriers to adhere to window fall prevention laws designed to protect children from falling from windows.”
A hearing date for Anello to make his plea officially before the court has not been scheduled.
The grandfather was on vacation with his son, daughter-in-law and toddler granddaughter when tragedy struck. On the day of Chloe’s death, the family members were enjoying their time on a cruise ship, which was docked in Puerto Rico. Anello — who is colorblind — was playing with Chloe by holding her near a window that he believed was closed. As soon as he let her go, so she could tap on the glass that he though was there, the toddler fell 11 stories and landed on the concrete dock. She was immediately pronounced dead.
Anello was charged with negligent homicide for Chloe’s death, though her parents supported him entirely and declined to file charges against him. The inconsolable pair have long stated that the little girl’s fatal fall was an honest accident on Anello’s part, and a grave error on the cruise ship’s part. They have since sued Royal Caribbean Cruises, accusing them of negligence for keeping an 11th-floor window open with no warning.
“I remember trying to find her on the floor and then I saw her fall, I saw her fall, I saw her fall and I was just in disbelief,” Anello told CBS This Morning in an emotional interview less than one week after Chloe’s death. “And I was like ‘Oh my God.’ And I think for a while I was in shock and I was just standing there.”
He added that he relives the horrific moment “all the time,” and regardless of how his legal case plays out, “the worst has already happened,” because he’s lost Chloe.