Devastated grandfather of toddler who died falling from his arms on cruise ship arrives in Chicago

The doting grandfather who was holding an Indiana toddler moments before her fatal plunge from the side of a cruise ship jetted back to the US today – after failing to give a witness statement to Puerto Rican investigators. 

Chloe Weigand was being supervised by maternal grandfather Salvatore ‘Sam’ Anello when she plummeted from the 11th deck of the Freedom of the Seas as it docked in San Juan on Sunday.

Anello – who could yet face charges of homicide or neglect – attended a pre-arranged appointment on Wednesday at the island’s Ministry of Justice accompanied by a criminal attorney from San Juan.

But an official from the justice department told DailyMail.com that, on the advice of his lawyer, the elderly IT worker from Valparaiso, Indiana, left the ministry later that day without giving an official statement.

Puerto Rican authorities have not made any arrests over Chloe’s death and legally there was nothing they could do to keep the family there once her body was released to them on Wednesday for repatriation.

Anello and his wife Patricia flew out early this morning and were seen looking drained and anguished as they arrived at Chicago O’Hare Airport this afternoon.

Salvatore Anello, the devastated grandfather of tragic Chloe Wiegand, arrived in Chicago today after flying back from Puerto Rico following the toddler's death

Salvatore Anello, the devastated grandfather of tragic Chloe Wiegand, arrived in Chicago today after flying back from Puerto Rico following the toddler's death

Salvatore Anello, the devastated grandfather of tragic Chloe Wiegand, arrived in Chicago today after flying back from Puerto Rico following the toddler’s death

Anello and his wife Patricia flew out early this morning and were seen looking drained and anguished as they arrived at Chicago O'Hare Airport this afternoon

Anello and his wife Patricia flew out early this morning and were seen looking drained and anguished as they arrived at Chicago O'Hare Airport this afternoon

Anello and his wife Patricia flew out early this morning and were seen looking drained and anguished as they arrived at Chicago O’Hare Airport this afternoon

Chloe, 18-months, died after falling from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Sunday

Chloe, 18-months, died after falling from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Sunday

Chloe, 18-months, died after falling from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Sunday

Chloe is thought to have slipped from her grandfather's hands before falling through an open glass window on the ship's 11th floor. The family said he had propped Chloe up against what he thought was a closed glass window, but when she leaned forward, she fell straight through

Chloe is thought to have slipped from her grandfather's hands before falling through an open glass window on the ship's 11th floor. The family said he had propped Chloe up against what he thought was a closed glass window, but when she leaned forward, she fell straight through

Chloe is thought to have slipped from her grandfather’s hands before falling through an open glass window on the ship’s 11th floor. The family said he had propped Chloe up against what he thought was a closed glass window, but when she leaned forward, she fell straight through

The window on the far left is the one Chloe fell through on Sunday while being held against the railing by her grandfather. The others appear to have handles which allow them to be slid open This photograph was taken by Chloe’s father after the accident 

Alan Weigand, a 40-year-old police officer with the South Bend Police Department, and his attorney wife Kimberly, 36, were flying back to the US on a different flight.

A hearse and a police escort were due to meet them to escort Chloe’s body back to their hometown of Granger, Indiana.

The couple had met with Justice Department officials on Tuesday and similarly refused to give witness statements, claiming they were on a different part of the ship when Chloe fell and didn’t see anything.

DailyMail.com can reveal they were also then given the opportunity to view a ‘high quality’ video of their daughter’s final moments captured from an onboard camera – but were too distraught to watch.

‘The family were asked to come to the Justice Department to talk about what happened but they decided not to since their lawyer had told them not to,’ said Justice Department spokesman Kelvin Carrasco.

‘The investigation is going to keep going. Maybe they will be asked to come again.’

The Weigands have retained criminal attorneys in San Juan who have thus far declined to speak to the media.

However Michael Winkleman, the couple’s US-based attorney, pushed back against suggestions the grieving family was refusing to cooperate. 

DailyMail.com can reveal the family was given the opportunity to view a 'high quality' video of their daughter's final moments captured from an onboard camera - but were too distraught to watch. Pictured: Grandfather Anello arriving in Chicago on Thursday afternoon

DailyMail.com can reveal the family was given the opportunity to view a 'high quality' video of their daughter's final moments captured from an onboard camera - but were too distraught to watch. Pictured: Grandfather Anello arriving in Chicago on Thursday afternoon

DailyMail.com can reveal the family was given the opportunity to view a ‘high quality’ video of their daughter’s final moments captured from an onboard camera – but were too distraught to watch. Pictured: Grandfather Anello arriving in Chicago on Thursday afternoon 

Winkleman said that, to be best of his knowledge, Anello had spent the whole of Wednesday trying to cooperate with investigators but the process was disrupted by 'translation issues'

Winkleman said that, to be best of his knowledge, Anello had spent the whole of Wednesday trying to cooperate with investigators but the process was disrupted by 'translation issues'

Winkleman said that, to be best of his knowledge, Anello had spent the whole of Wednesday trying to cooperate with investigators but the process was disrupted by ‘translation issues’

Chloe and her granddad were about to embark on a seven-night cruise of a lifetime around the Caribbean with her parents, older brother, fraternal grandparents and Anello's wife Patricia when the tragedy unfolded

Chloe and her granddad were about to embark on a seven-night cruise of a lifetime around the Caribbean with her parents, older brother, fraternal grandparents and Anello's wife Patricia when the tragedy unfolded

Chloe and her granddad were about to embark on a seven-night cruise of a lifetime around the Caribbean with her parents, older brother, fraternal grandparents and Anello’s wife Patricia when the tragedy unfolded

Anello and his wife Patricia flew out early this morning and were seen looking drained and anguished as they arrived at Chicago O'Hare Airport this afternoon

Anello and his wife Patricia flew out early this morning and were seen looking drained and anguished as they arrived at Chicago O'Hare Airport this afternoon

Anello and his wife Patricia flew out early this morning and were seen looking drained and anguished as they arrived at Chicago O’Hare Airport this afternoon

The family's stance is a setback for Justice Department investigators and detectives from the San Juan Police Department who are yet to declare whether Chloe's plunge was an accident, neglect or even a homicide.

The family's stance is a setback for Justice Department investigators and detectives from the San Juan Police Department who are yet to declare whether Chloe's plunge was an accident, neglect or even a homicide.

The family’s stance is a setback for Justice Department investigators and detectives from the San Juan Police Department who are yet to declare whether Chloe’s plunge was an accident, neglect or even a homicide.

‘It’s my understanding that the statement they [the parents] did give was ”hey we weren’t there”. And further to the point they said, we are happy to cooperate with you but just not now,’ he told DailyMail.com.

‘Fortunately the lawyers they’ve hired are very good and they are basically letting them go home for a few weeks so they can grieve and lay Chloe to rest.

‘The intention is that they will resume whatever inquiry there is going to be relating to the conduct of Sam, the grandfather, towards the end of the month.’

Winkleman said that, to be best of his knowledge, Anello had spent the whole of Wednesday trying to cooperate with investigators but the process was disrupted by ‘translation issues’.

‘It was my understanding that he did fully cooperate with them,’ said the Miami, Florida-based attorney, who specializes in maritime lawsuits.

‘I don’t know if they completed their investigation but I’m not there so it’s hard for me to stay with precision what did and didn’t happen.

‘I think the key is there’s no issue with cooperation, I just think it’s a timing issue.’

The family’s stance is a setback for Justice Department investigators and detectives from the San Juan Police Department who are yet to declare whether Chloe’s plunge was an accident, neglect or even a homicide.

Her distraught grandfather, right with her, had to be sedated afterwards because he was so upset

Her distraught grandfather, right with her, had to be sedated afterwards because he was so upset

Chloe, who was 18 months old, let out a ‘blood curdling’ scream as she fell, according to witnesses. Her distraught grandfather, right with her, had to be sedated afterwards because he was so upset

Alan Weigand, a 40-year-old police officer with the South Bend Police Department, and his attorney wife Kimberly, 36, were flying back to the US on a different flight

Alan Weigand, a 40-year-old police officer with the South Bend Police Department, and his attorney wife Kimberly, 36, were flying back to the US on a different flight

Alan Weigand, a 40-year-old police officer with the South Bend Police Department, and his attorney wife Kimberly, 36, were flying back to the US on a different flight 

This was the scene on the 11th deck after the accident on Sunday afternoon. It was taped off for police to investigate

This was the scene on the 11th deck after the accident on Sunday afternoon. It was taped off for police to investigate

This was the scene on the 11th deck after the accident on Sunday afternoon. It was taped off for police to investigate

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The window is shown in an exterior image taken after the accident. The family says her grandfather simply did not realize it was open when he propped her up

The window is shown in an exterior image taken after the accident. The family says her grandfather simply did not realize it was open when he propped her up

The window is shown in an exterior image taken after the accident. The family says her grandfather simply did not realize it was open when he propped her up 

Chloe plummeted 150ft from the 11th floor of the ship onto a concrete dock beneath it

Chloe plummeted 150ft from the 11th floor of the ship onto a concrete dock beneath it

Chloe plummeted 150ft from the 11th floor of the ship onto a concrete dock beneath it 

Officers were unable to find a first-hand witness to her last moments last Sunday when they boarded the $800 million Royal Caribbean ship that can carry up to 4,500 passengers.

However a source close to the investigation confirmed the entire incident was caught on camera.

‘The video is key to this. It’s very conclusive,’ the source confirmed. ‘It is now in the hands of the Justice Department who will make the decision on what to do.’

Chloe and her granddad were about to embark on a seven-night cruise of a lifetime around the Caribbean with her parents, older brother, fraternal grandparents and Anello’s wife Patricia when the tragedy unfolded.

It’s understood the pair were alone together when she fell through an open window and plunged 150ft on to a concrete dock.

Chloe’s parents are yet to make any comment publicly but Winkleman told DailyMail.com he was ‘1,000 percent’ certain Anello did not intend to harm his beloved granddaughter.

He said that in the few telephone conversations he’s had with Anello, the elderly man had been distraught and ‘crying hysterically’.

The Wiegand family are blaming Chloe's death on the liner. A lawyer hired by the family revealed that Anello had put Chloe up on a wooden railing to let her bang on the glass, as she loved to do at her older brothers' ice hockey games in Indiana, not realizing that the window was in fact open

The Wiegand family are blaming Chloe's death on the liner. A lawyer hired by the family revealed that Anello had put Chloe up on a wooden railing to let her bang on the glass, as she loved to do at her older brothers' ice hockey games in Indiana, not realizing that the window was in fact open

The Wiegand family are blaming Chloe’s death on the liner. A lawyer hired by the family revealed that Anello had put Chloe up on a wooden railing to let her bang on the glass, as she loved to do at her older brothers’ ice hockey games in Indiana, not realizing that the window was in fact open

Sgt Jose D. Sanchez (pictured) told DailyMail.com that it was premature to declare the incident an accident. He said possible charges could include homicide or neglect. It could also be the case that no charges are filed, he said, refusing to preempt the outcome of his inquiry

Sgt Jose D. Sanchez (pictured) told DailyMail.com that it was premature to declare the incident an accident. He said possible charges could include homicide or neglect. It could also be the case that no charges are filed, he said, refusing to preempt the outcome of his inquiry

Sgt Jose D. Sanchez (pictured) told DailyMail.com that it was premature to declare the incident an accident. He said possible charges could include homicide or neglect. It could also be the case that no charges are filed, he said, refusing to preempt the outcome of his inquiry

Winkleman has stated that he believes Royal Caribbean are to blame for having a window or missing pane of glass in a kids pay area with no warning signs. 

‘He said that he was holding her and that she wanted to get lifted up and that she wanted to bang on the glass like she did it at her brother’s hockey games,’ Winkleman told Dailymail.com.

‘He took her over. He thought that there was glass there and then the next thing he knows she’s gone.’

Winkleman said Royal Caribbean had thus far refused to give him access to the video footage of Chloe falling from the ship.

He said the San Juan Police Department had similarly refused to give a copy to the family’s Puerto Rican attorneys, whom he declined to name citing a request not to give out their details to the media.

Chloe’s parents were offered the chance to view the tape in private but they declined, he confirmed.

‘They weren’t ready to see it. I’m extremely anxious to watch the video because there will be nothing obviously more definitive to show what actually happened.’

While the extraordinarily emotive case could yet end in criminal charges against Anello, it seems a near certainty that it will result in a lawsuit against Royal Caribbean who have made only brief comments on the case citing concerns for the family’s privacy.

Anello said he took his granddaughter over to the windows because she loved banging on the glass at her brother's ice hockey games in Indiana

Anello said he took his granddaughter over to the windows because she loved banging on the glass at her brother's ice hockey games in Indiana

Anello said he took his granddaughter over to the windows because she loved banging on the glass at her brother’s ice hockey games in Indiana. He thought she would like to bang on the cruise ship windows too but ‘before he knew it, she was gone’ 

The Weigand party had traveled to Puerto Rico expecting a fun-packed family vacation that would see them take in the sights of San Juan, St Maarten, St Kitts, Antigua, St Lucia and Barbados.

The first signal their trip had gone horrifically wrong came at around 4:30pm when passengers in a dining area overlooking a pool heard screams.

Chloe’s mother arrived moments later and broke down as she looked over the side and saw her daughter lying motionless on the concrete Pan American dock below.

‘A scream of pain of that nature, does not compare with any other scream,’ a fellow passenger told TV station Telemundo PR.

Doctors stationed on board the 15-deck ship raced to save the toddler but she was declared dead at the scene having suffered suspected blunt force trauma to her head consistent with a fall.

As the police probe got underway, investigators boarded the vessel to search for witnesses.

They found the area had been busy but couldn’t obtain any first person accounts, with fellow passengers seemingly distracted by the pool, drinks and vacation plans.

Officers did however obtain the critical video footage from the Freedom of the Seas which left for St Maarten later that day and is set to arrive back in San Juan on Sunday.

However Michael Winkleman, the couple's US-based attorney, pushed back against suggestions the grieving family was refusing to cooperate

However Michael Winkleman, the couple's US-based attorney, pushed back against suggestions the grieving family was refusing to cooperate

However Michael Winkleman, the couple’s US-based attorney, pushed back against suggestions the grieving family was refusing to cooperate 

Freedom of the Seas cruise ship started its journey at San Juan in Puerto Rico

Freedom of the Seas cruise ship started its journey at San Juan in Puerto Rico

Freedom of the Seas cruise ship started its journey at San Juan in Puerto Rico 

Forensic experts also studied the boat’s windows, furniture and layout for clues as to how the child could have gone overboard.

It is possible officers could board the boat again when it concludes its trip to see if they can identify any further eyewitnesses.

‘There are various possibilities. It could be a homicide. It could be a murder. It could be an accident,’ Sgt Jose D. Sanchez, acting head of the San Juan Police Department’s Homicide Division, told DailyMail.com earlier this week.

‘We are still gathering formation, interviewing witnesses and analyzing all the evidence’ he added. ‘We haven’t ruled out any possibilities.’

Anello’s social media gives every impression of a proud and loving grandparent who doted over his grandkids.

Mike Hamann, his boss at the St. Joseph County IT department, told ABC 6: ‘Sal works in the IT department, he’s a very valuable employee. Wonderful, just, would do anything for you.’

More support came from South Bend Police chief Scott Ruszkowski, who told WSBT22 in Indiana that it was untrue Chloe was dangled out of a window.

‘The South Bend Police Department offers its sincerest condolences to Officer Alan Wiegand and his family during this difficult time following the tragic loss of their child while in Puerto Rico,’ the department said in a statement.

‘The department asks the community to pray for the entire Wiegand family as they grieve and to respect their privacy.’

A spokesperson for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. told DailyMail.com: ‘We are deeply saddened by yesterday’s tragic incident, and our hearts go out to the family.

‘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.’          

Link hienalouca.com

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