In the civil wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of an 18-month-old girl who fell to her death on board Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas last year, the parent company of the cruise line filed court documents with video showing the moments leading up to her death.
Attorneys for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. state the video shows that Chloe Wiegand's grandfather, Salvatore Anello, had himself leaned over a wooden railing and toward an open window of a Deck 11 venue on board the ship moments before picking up his granddaughter, "lifting her over the wooden rail towards the open window located several feet off the deck."
Chloe fell from Anello's grasp to her death below as the cruise ship was docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in July 2019. Anello, who has been charged in Puerto Rico with negligent homicide, claims he is colorblind and did not know the window was open. He said he thought he was lifting his granddaughter so that she could bang on the glass.
The civil suit filed in December in the U.S. District Court in Miami brought by Wiegand's family claims Chloe's death was the result of negligence on behalf of the cruise company and argues it should not have allowed for the window to be opened in an area where children play.
In a motion to dismiss the complaint, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. showed a series of stills from video from two closed-circuit TV cameras leading up to the death.
The first image shows Anello following granddaughter Chloe, both circled in red, toward the open window on Deck 11.
The second image shows that when Anello arrives to the open window and while Chloe was still on the floor, Anello leans his upper body over a wooden railing and out of the window frame for what Royal Caribbean said was eight seconds.
The filing states, “Because Mr. Anello had himself leaned out the window, he was well aware that the window was open. In addition, the windows in question consist of greenish-tinted glass making it open and obvious where a window is open versus closed."
The third and fourth images show Anello having leaned down and picked up Chloe, lifting her over the wooden rail toward the open window.
The final image provided in the motion states that Anello "stays in front of the open window and exposes Chloe to the open window, which was 11 decks high off the ground, with nothing but a concrete pier below, for approximately 34 seconds at which time she unfortunately fell."
The argument in the filing states, “The only reasonable conclusion from the video is that Mr. Anello knew the window was open before picking up Chloe. He nonetheless lifted the child over the wooden rail and the open window for a considerable period, recklessly endangering her life. There was no 'hidden danger' — Mr. Anello knew the window was open.”
The purpose of the filing was to contradict the plaintiff's case, asking for its dismissal.
The filing says Anello's "actions, which no reasonable person could have foreseen, were reckless and irresponsible and the sole reason why Chloe is no longer with her parents.”
The judge in the case has not ruled on the motion but has set a notice for a status conference on the case for March 11.
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