WHITELAND, Ind. — No criminal charges are being brought forward by the Johnson County Prosecutor’s Office in relation to the May drowning of a Whiteland high school student.
Officials with the office announced Monday that after an investigation from the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, it was determined that “no criminal laws were violated by school employees” during a May 16 incident that resulted in the death of 15-year-old Alaina Dildine.
According to previous reports, Dildine drowned in a swimming pool during a Tuesday physical education class at Whiteland Community High School. Officials said at the time that the student was swimming laps in the pool before she went under.
The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office provided a clearer timeline of the incident in Monday’s release.
Officials said that law enforcement and emergency medical personnel were dispatched around 11:12 a.m. on a report of a drowning. Police said that a student had been pulled from the pool around 11:11 a.m. and CPR was started by school employees.
Through its investigation, officials with the office said that around 10:18 a.m., the female student went below the surface “under the bulkhead that separates the swimming lanes and the diving well” during the class. At 10:30 a.m., the class was dismissed and the student remained unnoticed.
The report said that a male student noticed the student who went below the surface at 11:10 a.m. during the next physical education class, around 52 minutes after she initially went under.
Around 11:47 a.m., medical staff on scene pronounced the student deceased. The autopsy reported that it was an accidental drowning death.
Officials with the prosecutor’s office said that while the office has determined that no criminal laws were violated by school employees, it is not the function of the office “to determine whether any negligence on behalf of school officials” contributed to the incident.
“Such a determination would need to be made in the civil justice system,” the release said.
On Monday afternoon, the attorney representing Dildine’s family in court released the following statement:
The Dildine family is disappointed, but understands the Prosecutor’s decision not to press any criminal charges against the lifeguard and P.E. teacher who were present when Alaina drowned. This decision does not absolve them and the school from responsibility, however. In fact, the police investigation revealed a troubling series of oversights which directly led to Alaina’s drowning. School officials knew Alaina had a seizure disorder, and yet they took no special precautions to protect her in the pool. Surveillance video shows Alaina swimming in a lane with three other students near the end of class when she went under the water while having an apparent seizure. The staff member who was supposed to be watching her lane was on the pool deck but not keeping a head count of the four students in Alaina’s lane. Significantly, the school does not have any written policies, procedures, or protocols that adequately safeguard students using the pool. For example, the P.E. teacher and lifeguard took attendance at the beginning of class, but they were not required to count the students after they exited the pool. Instead, the teacher and lifeguard dismissed the students from the pool haphazardly and then failed to conduct a careful check of the pool after the students exited. As a result, Alaina was not discovered for 53 minutes. Such policies should be standard for any school offering swimming as a P.E. activity.
The school has already terminated the employment of the lifeguard. Given the results of the investigation, Alaina’s family asks that the school district also take appropriate disciplinary action against the teacher who was supposed to be watching Alaina. Finally, the family urges the school to make meaningful policy changes for the safety of all students.Attorney Stephen Wagner
In a statement also sent by Wagner, the Dildine’s parents thanked the officials involved in the investigation and said they are still in shock at the loss of their daughter.
The full statement can be read below:
We would like to thank the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department and Prosecutor for thoroughly investigating the circumstances surrounding Alaina’s death. We are still in shock at the loss of Alaina, and we are trying our best not to feel angry…but it is hard. As we continue to mourn, we ask the school corporation to implement new swimming pool policies to keep all students safe so no other family has to experience such a profound loss.Kyle and Victoria Dildine, via attorney Stephen Wagner