Family of Whiteland student who drowned in school pool reacts to prosecutor’s decision
WHITELAND, Ind. (WISH) — The family of Alaina Dildine, the Whiteland Community High School student who drowned in the school’s pool after suffering a seizure, is responding to the Johnson County prosecutor’s decision not to file charges against school employees.
“The Dildine family is disappointed but understands the prosecutor’s decision not to press any criminal charges against the lifeguard and P.E. (physical education) teacher who were present when Alaina drowned. This decision does not absolve them and the school from responsibility, however,” attorney Stephen Wagner of Wagner Reese LLP said after the prosecutor on Monday announced his decision.
Wagner is speaking on behalf of the family. He says her family is trying its best to not be angry while seeking change to the pool safety policies, and asking for discipline to the teacher who was supposed to be watching the 15-year-old.
The attorney says the school district fired the lifeguard.
He also says a lawsuit may be on the horizon.
According to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, Dildine’s swim class began at 9:37 a.m. May 16. The students were in the pool with a physical education teacher nearby.
At 10:18 a.m., Dildine went below the surface of the pool and her classmates continued to swim.
About 15 minutes later, the class ended and the students left the pool.
No one noticed Dildine.
About 11 a.m., the next class entered the pool area.
At 11:10 a.m., another student noticed Dildine.
A physical education teacher pulled Dildine out of the pool and attempted CPR.
At 11:47 a.m., Dildine was pronounced deceased after going unnoticed about 52 minutes, according to the sheriff’s office.
Wagner family says Dildine was a sweet girl with a heart of gold and enjoyed helping others. “She wanted to be the president of the United States. That was her well-stated goal, but she was a bright light.”
The family, he said, “understood that this is not a situation where there would usually be criminal charges, so I think they’ve come to terms with that and appreciate the thorough investigation from the Sheriff’s Department.”
Wagner says the physical education teacher and the lifeguard took attendance at the start of class, but they were not required to count students after they’d exited the pool.
“During the supervision of children, there should be provisions made for children with disabilities like Alaina. They should be kept closer to the teacher. That’s what her care plan called for. There’s other ways, different national epileptic associations talk about perhaps a different colored swimming cap for someone with epilepsy who would be in a pool,” Wagner said. “Hopefully, this will not be a situation that will require that type of path. The Dildines would love to work with the school to work out those plans to make it a safer place.”
Wagner says Dildine had made it her mission to spread awareness on epilepsy. Now, her family is continuing that work.