Man Charged in His Granddaughter's Cruise Ship Death Breaks Silence in Heartbreaking Interview

Salvatore Anello was charged with negligent homicide after he accidentally dropped his 18-month-old granddaugter Chloe Wiegand out of a cruise ship window in Puerto Rico in July, and he is being charged by Puerto Rican prosecutors against the family's wishes.

Anello was with his granddaughter in the children's water park play area of the ship, which was docked in San Juan. Anello put Chloe on a wooden railing in front of a wall of glass windows, one of which was open, though Anello says he did not realize it.

Speaking to CBS News, Anello explained that he believes his colorblindness may have contributed to him not realizing that the window was open and not closed as he believed.

"I'm colorblind, David," he told CBS News correspondent David Begnaud. "I don't know. I just never saw it. … I've been told that that's a reason that it might have happened."

Anello was holding Chloe up to the window of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, explaining that he had one arm around his granddaughter and was trying to knock on the glass with his other hand, though he said it was farther out than he had expected.

"I think that's the point where she slipped out of me," Anello said. "At no point during that whole incident did I think that, well, she fell out. It was, like, it was unbelievable. It's like it disappeared. It's like the glass disappeared.

Despite what Anello thought at the time, there was no glass, and Chloe slipped out of her grandfather's arm and fell 150 feet from the ship.

"I saw her fall. I saw her fall the whole way down. I saw her fall, and I was just in disbelief," he said. "I was like, 'Oh my God,' ... And then I just remember screaming that I thought there was glass."

Surveillance footage of the moment shared by attorney Michael Winkleman, who represents Chloe's family but not Anello, appears to show Anello and Chloe leaning over the railing before Chloe disappears from view. The entire incident reportedly lasted around 30 seconds.

"Not knowing that there wasn't glass there, if somehow I thought that she was going beyond the glass, I wouldn't have done it. I would have been appalled," Anello said. "I wouldn't mess around with Chloe in — that kind of — or anybody with a dangerous kind of — never. Never. ... If there was some kind of warning sign, we wouldn't even have been near it. We wouldn't even have been near it."

Anello says he blames the cruise line and wants them to "fix the boat."

"The more and more days go by, you know, initially I couldn't — I couldn't help but blame myself," he said. "But I know that — I know that I — if there was a sign, if there was something that indicated there was a chance for that window to be an opening, that this wouldn't happen."

Anello is due in court on Dec. 17 and is facing up to three years in prison if he is convicted.

"Whether, you know, they find me guilty of whatever or not. It's inconsequential because of what has already happened is so horrible," he said. "This seems like it's all not real. She's such a beautiful little girl, a perfect little girl … smart little girl, smart little girl that everybody should have been able to know, that everybody should have been able to know."

0comments

"Chloe being gone is the worst thing ever. So I'm like, whatever," Anello said. "There's nothing worse that they could do to me than what's already happened."

Photo Credit: CBS