Child's cruise ship death raises question: When should caregivers be charged?

Via:  perrie-halpern  •  4 months ago  •  29 comments

By:   By Elizabeth Chuck

Child's cruise ship death raises question: When should caregivers be charged?
A grandfather's arrest after a toddler in his care plummeted to her death off a cruise ship highlights the intricacies of negligence cases, experts say.

There is not a caretaker who has not made a mistake while watching a child, but most don't result in death. Is it fair to punish a terrible mistake when it was truly a mistake?

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

Chloe Wiegand's family   has no doubt her death was a horrific accident. They harbor no blame against her grandfather, Salvatore "Sam" Anello, who was with the toddler when she   fell out of an 11th story window   on a Royal Caribbean cruise in July.

But prosecutors — who on Monday   arrested Anello   on charges of negligent homicide — see the case differently. The charges, experts say, highlight a legal gray area: Should caregivers be held criminally responsible if a tragedy that was truly accidental resulted in the loss of a child's life?

The answer varies, not only based on the facts of the case, but on who is deciding the charges.

Legal experts say prosecutors rely on a specific set of criteria for determining whether they can pursue charges in a child's death.

In intentional homicides, they must have evidence that parents or other caregivers knew they were placing the child in danger or have evidence that they meant to harm their kids — for instance, if a parent beats a child to death, said Daniel Blinka, a Marquette University Law School professor.

Filing lesser charges against a caregiver, such as charges of negligence or recklessness, can be less clear-cut because they "don't require intent or knowledge that what you're going to do is going to kill or severely injure a child," Blinka said. Prosecutors only need to determine that the caregiver veered from what another reasonable person would do under the same circumstances, resulting in the child's death.

Anello had been in the children's play area of the cruise ship with Chloe when he says he hoisted her up to a window that he presumed was closed.

Chloe loved to bang on glass on the side of the rink at her brother's hockey games, so Anello lifted her up to do the same on the ship, expecting the window to be closed.

Chloe's mother, Kimberly Wiegand, said the Indiana family is pursuing legal action against Royal Caribbean, claiming it created a safety hazard by having an open window so many stories up; Royal Caribbean has said it was saddened by the incident and is helping authorities into the investigation. The Puerto Rican prosecutors who arrested Anello on Monday are not commenting on the case, citing the ongoing investigation.

But Blinka said the prosecutors may be thinking, "We're willing to accept your statement that you didn't know about the glass, but any reasonable person in your situation would have been aware of that fact and would never have taken the risk of holding up a young child."

"With cases like this, you stand in front of the jury and make it very clear that 'look, we are not saying grandpa intended to harm this child, never mind kill the child. What we are saying is what he did is so careless that no one in his position had any business lifting this child up,'" Blinka said. "Essentially the issue becomes grandpa did something that was both tragic and stupid and the issue is whether that stupid act that resulted in a child's death should result in his criminal conviction."

Jim Cohen, an associate professor of law at Fordham University, echoed that.

"A prosecutor is going to ask the question: Why didn't this grandfather know that there was no glass there? What many of us often do in such a circumstance is we put our hand out to touch the glass," he said.

Others said the charges went too far.

In the case of children — who by nature are helpless, vulnerable and dependent upon their caregivers, said Peter Scharf, a public health criminologist at the Louisiana State University School of Public Health — there is often a desire to "blame someone, even if it's not legally appropriate."

"You have to know a little more about the case to really get inside the head of the prosecutors, but on the face of it, it seems like a problematic decision," Scharf said. "It's double devastation: the loss of a child, and now this."

Deadly accidents under the careful watch of loving caregivers are rare, but they do happen. A more frequent example: A parent who falsely remembers dropping their child off at daycare, unintentionally leaving the child to die strapped in their car seats as the temperature inside the vehicle rises.

Since 1990, more than 940 children have died in hot cars, according to,   a nonprofit dedicated to saving the lives of children and pets in and around vehicles. About half the time, parents or caregivers are charged in the deaths, said Amber Rollins, director of, and 32 percent are convicted.

There is little consistency from case to case: Three years ago, in Mississippi,   two nearly identical instances of parents accidentally leaving their children to die   in hot cars resulted in two different outcomes. One grand jury declined to charge the first parent, a mother who forgot to drop her 2-year-old off at daycare, while a grand jury less than 100 miles away indicted the second parent, a father who forgot to drop off his eight-month-old off at daycare, for manslaughter.

"There's no rhyme or reason to why or why not somebody is charged," said Rollins, adding that for caregivers, facing charges after accidentally leaving a child to die feels like "tragedy upon tragedy."

Even an investigation with no charges can be torturous for families who have lost children due to accidents, said Alison Jacobson, CEO of First Candle, a national nonprofit that works to prevent accidental suffocation and sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, in babies and provides bereavement support to families.

She said there are no statistics on how often charges are filed when a baby dies in their sleep — which could be from something as benign-seeming as falling asleep on a parents' chest. But it is standard to have an investigation into the baby's death, and "that investigation in and of itself is devastating to the parents because they already feel guilty," she said.

In an   interview   with the "Today" show, Chloe's father, Alan Wiegand, described her as her grandfather's "best friend." He described Anello as "very, very distraught."

"We'll never forget her,'' Wiegand said of Chloe. "She's part of our soul that's not there anymore."


jrDiscussion - desc
smarty_function_ntUser_is_admin: user_id parameter required
1  zuksam    4 months ago

I can see how an old man might not realize a window is open since I know I don't see as well as I used to. It sounds like an accident but I wouldn't think a reasonable person would encourage a child to go around "Banging" on Glass since the strength of windows varies quite a bit.

Buzz of the Orient
1.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  zuksam @1    4 months ago

An actual incident of such a thing happened in Toronto. A party was being held in a high up floor law office in the Toronto Dominion Bank Tower, and an idiot lawyer who was most likely drunk wanted to show off how solid the windows were, pushed against it, it gave way, and he plummeted to the ground.  


Death of Garry Hoy - Wikipedia

Hoy fell from the  TD Bank Tower  (known at the time [citation needed] as the  Toronto Dominion Bank Tower ). Garry Hoy (January 1, 1955 – July 9, 1993) was a lawyer for the law firm of Holden Day Wilson in Toronto who was notorious for the circumstances of his death.

Paula Bartholomew
1.1.1  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1.1    4 months ago

Hoy vey!

Buzz of the Orient
1.1.2  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @1.1.1    4 months ago

 Clever reply!

Paula Bartholomew
1.1.3  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1.1.2    4 months ago

I have my moments.jrSmiley_9_smiley_image.gif   I wasn't sure anyone got that.  Thank you Buzz.

Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom
2  Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom    4 months ago

Sometimes an accident is just that; an accident.  The event itself is punishment enough, not just for the grandfather, but for the cruise line as well.

2.1  Ozzwald  replied to  Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom @2    4 months ago
Sometimes an accident is just that; an accident.

But sometimes it is not, it is something else.  They need to know for sure before making any decisions.

Trout Giggles
3  Trout Giggles    4 months ago

Why was a window open on the 11th floor?

3.1  XDm9mm  replied to  Trout Giggles @3    4 months ago
Why was a window open on the 11th floor?

Great question.  Cleaning??

But the better question is when it was opened why were the cruise lines own protocols for such an event apparently not followed and they are now refusing to provide the video evidence of that omission.

Trout Giggles
3.1.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  XDm9mm @3.1    4 months ago

They don't want to get sued

3.1.2  XDm9mm  replied to  Trout Giggles @3.1.1    4 months ago
They don't want to get sued

We both know that and it's quite obvious.  

But, that will not protect them in the lawsuits that are already initiated.   

Their release will assist the grandfather avoid the travesty of justice currently being perpetrated by Puerto Rico trying to prosecute him.

Paula Bartholomew
3.2  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Trout Giggles @3    4 months ago

Those windows don't open.  It was probably a case of shitty work installing it.

Split Personality
3.2.1  Split Personality  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @3.2    4 months ago

When this originally happened I posted pictures of the play area and several from the outside of the ship when the yellow tape was still up.

Every other window was a slider, no screens, which opened over a fixed window,

about 36 inches off of the floor with a rail and ledge big enough for a paper plate and drinks.

In the after the "crime" photos, from inside the play area it was near impossible to see which window was open

whereas from the outside it was clearly evident.

Paula Bartholomew
3.2.2  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Split Personality @3.2.1    4 months ago

I was referring to the window that Mr Hoy fell from.  Sorry for the confusion.

4  Tacos!    4 months ago

I don't see the point in charging the old man with a crime.

I can't help but wonder if it's just easier to scapegoat an old man with minimal resources instead of going after a large cruise ship company with deep pockets and teams of lawyers.

Paula Bartholomew
4.1  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Tacos! @4    4 months ago

Did the cruise ship tell him to put that child in danger?

4.1.1  Tacos!  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @4.1    4 months ago

I'm assuming he didn't think the child was in danger. If you're on a cruise, do you expect that windows are just missing from where they normally are? Maybe it's something a younger person would be aware of, but an older man with bad vision may not have been aware of it.

Split Personality
4.2  Split Personality  replied to  Tacos! @4    4 months ago

The family is suing the cruise line.

It Is ME
5  It Is ME    4 months ago

People do the darndest things ! jrSmiley_85_smiley_image.gif


"Grandpa" needs to be checked out for "Dementia, if he put his grandkid on top of a railing, put up so folks wouldn't fall over, and "Didn't" know if a window was open or not !

Paula Bartholomew
6  Paula Bartholomew    4 months ago

Why is it that people will child proof their homes, but neglect to check for dangers in an unfamiliar setting?

6.1  NV-Robin6  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @6    4 months ago

Some dangers are inherent,  others may not be. 

This is very disturbing the prosecutors are driving a stake through this grandfather's broken heart. He err'd in judgment but he did not have malicious intent.

Several years ago, where I grew up, a beloved respected farmer backed up his truck and did not see his 4 year old granddaughter was behind him killing her instantly.  He wasn't charged because it was a accident. But, this totally destroyed the farmer. It would me too.  He died of a broken heart a few years after. As my nephew did after being in accident that threw his 15 yo brother out the back of his truck killing him instantly when his truck rolled over him. The horse trailer in front of driver nephew had no tail lights. He did not see it had stopped abruptly to turn left,  so swerved to miss hitting it but rolled his truck. The boys were on their way with inner tubes to float a local river. Several years later and a life of grief, the other nephew killed himself. He spent a great deal of time in therapy but in the long run, it didnt help. This is stuff that never finds relief or healing no matter how humans try.  As family, our hearts are forever broken. As to the parents, off the deep end ever since. Life can be so cruel at times.  

This poor grandfather and his family. There is no way a jury will convict. To put this family through the hell is shameful and an injustice. He is suffering enough.  It will likely kill him. 

Paula Bartholomew
6.1.1  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  NV-Robin6 @6.1    4 months ago

If he is convicted, I would hope that they opt for home confinement instead of prison.

6.1.2  NV-Robin6  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @6.1.1    4 months ago

I hope it doesn't come to that, but yes, if that is the outcome. Sad situation all the way around!

Paula Bartholomew
6.1.3  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  NV-Robin6 @6.1.2    4 months ago

He is going to be a prisoner of his own guilt and pain for the rest of his life. Putting him in an environment where he will be attacked by other prisoners due to the death of a child just does not make sense.

6.1.4  NV-Robin6  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @6.1.3    4 months ago

I hear ya! He'll be lucky if he makes it through the next few years. There are some pains our psyche's can never heal. This has to be on the top of the list whether parent or grandparent error in an accidental death of a child.

Mygawd, this reminds me another tragic story. Back in high school, one of my childhood friends killed a toddler accidentally. She was driving her parent's station wagon that had a long front end. Going through an alley, it had a hilly incline that she couldn't see what was in front of her till it was too late even though she was going really slow. The toddler was 4 blocks from home, unattended riding a big wheel. She has been distraught all her life over it and that was 43 years ago. She never had children herself but did become an awesome RN. Said she just couldn't stand the idea she had a right to parentage even knowing she wasn't really at fault. I can't even imagine that burden of guilt. I know the lessons we learn from others is I never allowed my children big wheels. Kids can just get away too quickly. I think they're one of the worst toys ever put out there. My kids had petal cars instead in safety zones only where no cars could be. 

7  Freefaller    4 months ago

While as others have stated the cruise line may have some culpability, the grandfather put his granddaughter up by the window without checking for safety and is the primary person responsible for her death.  As a result he needs to be charged with criminal negligence at the very least and punished accordingly.

7.1  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Freefaller @7    4 months ago

The man will most likely suffer for this emotionally and psychologically for the rest of his life, however long he has left. That alone is probably punishment enough.

7.1.1  Freefaller  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @7.1    4 months ago
The man will most likely suffer for this emotionally and psychologically for the rest of his life

I can see your (and others) point and agree he possibly will

That alone is probably punishment enough.

IMO no it isn't, if convicted then he will have broken the law.  Breaking the law comes with consequences.

8  Kathleen    4 months ago

The grandfather and the rest of the family suffered enough.

My condolences to the whole family.  Such a terrible tragedy.


Who is online

52 visitors