Salvatore Anello, the Indiana grandfather who has been accused of accidentally dropping his 18-month-old granddaughter out of a window to her death on a cruise ship last year, has reportedly pleaded guilty to negligent homicide.
Anello said he made the decision to "help end the nightmare" for his family, ABC News reported.
"I was placed in charge of keeping my beautiful granddaughter safe and I failed. It will always be a constant nightmare every day and every night for the rest of my life," Anello said in a statement Tuesday.
Anello has maintained that he and his granddaughter, Chloe Wiegand, were in a play area on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship last July, and he thought the window she fell out of was closed. He said when Chloe went to bang on it, she fell from the 11th floor.
Anello, 51, has waived his right to trial and will not have to serve any jail time as a result of his plea deal.
"This decision was an incredibly difficult one for Sam and the family," Anello’s attorney, Michael Winkleman, told ABC News.
Since the plea agreement included no jail time and no admission of facts, the family decided taking it was in their best interest "so that they can close this horrible chapter," he said.
Now, the family can "turn their focus to mourning Chloe and fighting for cruise passenger safety by raising awareness about the need for all common carriers to adhere to window fall prevention laws designed to protect children from falling from windows," Winkleman said.
The family had previously called the fall a “tragic accident."
Chloe’s family had filed a suit against the cruise company after the toddler’s death, saying that the cruise line made it difficult to decipher whether windows were open or closed on the ship.
Royal Caribbean countered the suit earlier this year, however, asking that the family’s wrongful death lawsuit against them be dismissed, citing negligence and claiming that Anello leaned out of the window for several seconds before lifting Chloe to it.
“His 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 cruise line wrote in the suit.
Chloe’s parents previously said that they do not blame Anello for what happened. The family's attorney also said that the charge against Anello was “pouring salt on the open wounds” of a grieving family.
"I wasn't drinking and I wasn't dangling her out of a window. I just wanted to knock on the glass with her as we did together so many times before," Anello continued in his statement about their times at hockey rinks together previously."I was just so horribly wrong about our surroundings."