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Wiegand Family Moving Forward with Royal Caribbean Wrongful Death Lawsuit

By Orlando Personal Injury Attorney on October 17, 2020

On Thursday, October 15th, 2020, an Indiana grandfather pleaded guilty to negligent homicide for his part in the tragic death of his 18-month old granddaughter who was killed after falling eleven stories through a window from a children’s play area while aboard a docked cruise ship back in July of 2019. Despite the recent developments, the family has decided to continue forward with their wrongful death lawsuit against Royal Caribbean alleging that the company’s negligence directly led to the death of the toddler.

It was during the first week of July in 2019 that the Wiegand Family, composed of grandfather Salvatore “Sam” Anello, parents Kim and Alan Wiegand, and 18-month-old Chloe Wiegand, left their home in South Bend, Indiana and set out for the vacation of a lifetime aboard Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas cruise ship in Puerto Rico. Docked in the capital city of San Juan, this luxury liner is able to comfortably accommodate 3,634 passengers and 1,300 crew throughout its 19 expansive decks and levels. At the time of its construction in 2006, the Freedom of the Seas was one of the largest passenger ships ever built.

According to investigative reports from the Puerto Rican authorities, on July 7th, 2019, Kim Wiegand and her young daughter were playing at one of the water parks located on the 11th deck of the ship, when she asked her step-father Sam Anello to watch over little Chloe Wiegand so she could attend to a different matter. Seeing no issue with this request, the grandfather/granddaughter combo paired off and made their way over to a nearby children’s play zone which features a section with floor-to-ceiling glass windows that passengers are able to open. A statement from Anello indicates that the toddler asked to be picked up so she could “bang” on the windows – something she frequently did at her brother’s hockey games. He goes on to say that as he hoisted her up, she unexpectedly leaned forward which caused him to lose his grip on her. The little girl slipped out of the open window and fell 150 feet to the deck of the San Juan Pier where she sustained fatal injuries. Anello was arrested soon after the incident occurred.

It should be noted that the Wiegard Family did not support the arrest of Sam Anello. They instead believe this to be a tragic accident and that the fault lies with Royal Caribbean who “failed to comply with industry safety standards to prevent guests from falling from windows,” their wrongful death lawsuit indicates. Additionally, the grandfather maintains that he was completely unaware that the window was open as there was no visible signage or warnings displayed within the children’s play area.


James O. Cunningham

James O. CunninghamSince 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.

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