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Continued: Report describes moments leading to St. Louis Park school drowning

  • Article by: ROCHELLE OLSON , Star Tribune
  • Last update: April 18, 2014 - 5:20 AM

Police found that explanation credible, saying the raft and choppy water from the horseplay would have made it “very difficult for” the teacher to see the boy go under and drown.

Michael McGee, the Ramsey County medical examiner who performed the autopsy on the boy, said he found no trauma to indicate that Charif died from anything other than accidental drowning. McGee also told police that nonswimmers can drown quietly and quickly without any flailing.

The police report, however, said interviews noted a “glaring discrepancy” between when the teacher claims he last saw the boy and when students reported seeing him.

The teacher said he last saw Charif a couple of minutes after he blew the second and final whistle at 8:45 a.m., but none of the 14 students interviewed said they saw the boy then. Police estimated that Charif drowned between 8:33 a.m. and 8:42 a.m.

Another problematic statement from the teacher was that he claimed not to have seen the boy in the deep end, police said.

During the class, the teacher said he took about five minutes to give a test to a couple of swimmers in the shallow end and to record the results on his iPad, but most of the time he was on a bench at the midpoint between the shallow and deep ends of the pool.

A timeline of tragedy

The reports included the teacher’s timeline of that day: Class began at 8:16 a.m. At 8:40 a.m., the teacher blew the first whistle indicating that the students had 15 minutes before the end of the period and that they could leave the pool or swim another five minutes. The report said about two-thirds of the students left the pool.

At 8:45 a.m., the teacher blew the whistle a second time, requiring the remaining students to remove equipment from the pool and go to the locker room. The teacher told police that at that time, he saw Charif playing in the shallow end of the pool.

No more than three minutes later, the teacher believed everyone was out of the pool, but as he headed into the locker room, he found a pair of boy’s shoes. He asked the boys in the locker room about the shoes, then went back to the pool and saw Charif submerged in the deep end.

The teacher said he pulled the boy out and began CPR.

At 8:52 a.m., 911 was called. Emergency personnel arrived at 8:57 a.m., the report said, but their efforts came too late, and two days later, Charif died in the hospital.


Staff writer David Chanen contributed to this report. Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747 TWitter: @rochelleolson

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