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‘They can’t do anything worse to me,’ says grandfather charged in toddler’s cruise-ship death after court appearance

The Freedom of the Seas cruise ship docked in Bayonne, N.J. (Mike Derer/AP)

The grandfather who was charged with negligent homicide in the death of his 18-month-old granddaughter, who fell 11 stories from the window of a cruise ship, faces a three-year prison sentence. On Wednesday, he spoke with media for the first time after the incident.

“They can’t do anything worse to me than has already happened,” Salvatore Anello told NBC News following a court appearance in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

On Oct. 28, Anello turned himself in to Puerto Rican authorities, who said the Granger, Ind., man “negligently exposed the child to the abyss through a window,” according to reporting from The Washington Post.

The child, Chloe Wiegand, died July 7 while the Royal Caribbean International’s Freedom of the Seas ship was docked at a port. Anello had placed Chloe on a railing in a water play area next to a set of windows. According to Anello, Chloe liked to bang on the glass at her brother’s hockey games. He wasn’t aware the window was open.

Chloe’s parents, Kimberly and Alan Wiegand, told the “Today” show the cruise line was to blame for their daughter’s death. “We obviously blame them,” Kimberly Wiegand said in an interview that aired during the summer. “There are a million things that could have been done to make that safer.”

The Wiegands’ attorney, Michael Winkleman, said in a statement that the incident was an accident not worthy of criminal charges: “These criminal charges are pouring salt on the open wounds of this grieving family."

But security video aboard the ship that has not been released to the public led prosecutors to seek charges of negligence. Anello, whose nickname is Sam, posted bail set at $80,000 and had been waiting at home until the preliminary hearing on Nov. 20.

Throughout the ordeal, Royal Caribbean has expressed remorse: “We are deeply saddened by this incident, and our hearts go out to the family,” a spokesman for the cruise line told The Post.

When they reflect on that day, no one in the family thought the “unfathomable” circumstances were possible, and still, they’re left with a sense of disbelief.

“He was extremely hysterical,” Kimberly Wiegand said in July. “The thing that he has repeatedly told us is, ‘I believed that there was glass.’ He will cry over and over. At no point ever, ever, has Sam ever put our kids in danger.”

Hannah Sampson contributed to this report.

Read more:

Tourists recall a mother’s tormented cries after toddler fell from cruise ship to her death

Is cruising safe? Most of the time, but beware of what can go wrong.

‘At a certain point, you just lose it’: Passengers revolt and riot aboard Norwegian Spirit cruise ship

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