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HS Swimming Instructor Ignores Drowning Student

 
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    Posted: Feb 12 2014 at 11:26am

Prosecutor: East Detroit swim instructor changed clothes rather than save drowning teen

11:01 PM, February 11, 2014   |  
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By Eric D. Lawrence and Christina Hall

Detroit Free Press Staff Writers
The swimming instructor in charge of the class during which an East Detroit High School student drowned last year opted to change into his swimming clothes rather than jump into the pool when he learned that a boy was struggling in the water, authorities revealed today.

The instructor also was not certified as a swim teacher and was in the bleachers — not in the pool where he should have been — when students in the remedial swimming class ran to tell him that 14-year-old KeAir Swift was in trouble, Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith said. .

Smith said his office on Monday authorized a charge of involuntary manslaughter against Johnathan Lamonte Sails, 24, of Detroit. The charge carries a potential 15-year prison sentence and/or $7,500 fine for a conviction.

Sails is expected to turn himself in Wednesday at 38th District Court in Eastpointe for arraignment, Eastpointe Police Lt. Neil Childs said.

According to Smith, Sails initially “blew off” the concerns of students, assuming that KeAir was just messing around, before he went down to check. It was only when more students came to him that the instructor left the bleachers.

By that time, KeAir was already at the bottom of the pool, Smith said. But instead of taking action, the instructor left to get changed, Smith said.

Another school official, hearing the commotion, ran to the pool and jumped into the water in his suit to pull KeAir out. But by that time, it was too late, Smith said.

“If (Sails) had immediately taken action, something might have been different,” Smith said. “This needless tragedy could have easily been avoided.”

Neither KeAir’s mother nor Sails could be reached for comment today. .

“These are beginning swimmers, and we have a guy in there who has no certification,” Smith said of Sails. “This isn’t a cooking class where the guy lied about his credentials … it’s life and death where kids don’t know how to swim.”

Smith, who praised the work of police on the case, said authorities believe East Detroit Public Schools shares some blame, but that authorities would not be able to prove gross negligence on the district’s part.

In a statement this afternoon, the school district said it received word earlier that day that the prosecutor was going to charge Sails, a contracted substitute teacher.

It stated that Sails is an employee of an outside contractor — Professional Educational Services Group (PESG) — which has provided substitute teachers for the district and many other area school districts over the past several years.

Superintendent Joanne Lelekatch told the Free Press that Sails, who once also served as a track coach, has not been working in the district since the incident Nov. 8. She did not know how long he had been with the district.

Kristi Flietstra, general counsel of PESG, said it is corporate policy not to discuss employment matters in the media. However, it did release a statement today: “We continue to keep the family of KeAir Swift and the East Detroit Public Schools community in our thoughts and prayers.”

Lelekatch said in a statement Tuesday. “When tragedies such as this happen, our focus remains on the student, his peers and the family. In his short time with the district, the student involved earned the respect and admiration of his peers and faculty. He will be missed in our community.”

Lelekatch said the district has been cooperating with authorities as they investigated the death, but said it would be “inappropriate for us to speculate about the charges, and we trust that the justice system will appropriately address the matter.”

She said the school staffer who dove into the pool to try to save KeAir was a physical education teacher who was acting as an assistant principal that day.

Smith noted that police were able to quickly find out that Sails was not certified as swimming instructor. The prosecutor said Sails had misrepresented his certification to the district.

Lelekatch said she could not speak to those comments or discuss any changes the district may have made since the incident. However, she said, the pool has not reopened and no decision has not been made on when it will reopen.

KeAir was a Detroit resident who enrolled at East Detroit this school year as part of the schools-of-choice program, officials have said. He was in the last day of a three-week swim class that was part of the school’s physical education program when the incident happened .

Contact Eric D. Lawrence: elawrence@freepress.com.

http://www.freep.com/article/20140211/NEWS04/302110093/Eastpointe-drowning-charges

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pinkdiemond View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinkdiemond Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 12 2014 at 11:43am
disgusted.....a life wasted
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ming Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 12 2014 at 11:48am
We got swimming lessons when we were young, before fear set in. Then, again in school. I really don't remember the teachers ever getting in tho and we were young. With all those kids, no one in my classes got hurt. I wanna have my children taught because this is crazy

Irresponsible and avoidable
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bored w/Out Me? Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 12 2014 at 12:00pm
I hope he gets the prison sentence...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (7) Thanks(7)   Quote sexyandfamous Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 12 2014 at 12:00pm
The school should be charged too; how can you allow someone with no certification to teach kids to swim? I hope he does get 15 years - that was how old the kid would be this year had he not died.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Longhairwanted8 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 12 2014 at 2:19pm
wth is going on. Fake swimming instructors. gym teacher acting like an assistant . A whole lot of mess. That poor child.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Marcelo22 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 12 2014 at 2:21pm
Swimming teachers are the WORST. I think I hate swimming teachers more than math teachers cause at least math teachers not yelling at u the whole class period. These swimming teachers be mad out of shape too Dead U damn near naked with a beer belly, get in shape. RIP this young man, that swimming teacher needs to get the electric chair.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote newdiva1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 12 2014 at 2:27pm
fucc him all the way to hell.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (3) Thanks(3)   Quote Tbaby Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 12 2014 at 2:40pm
Smith noted that police were able to quickly find out that Sails was not certified as swimming instructor. The prosecutor said Sails had misrepresented his certification to the district.

read::Lied on his resume/application

Give this guy the max penalty please.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Midna Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 12 2014 at 2:43pm
This guy now has a kid's blood on his hands all just to go change some clothes.

Sociopathic ass. Give him the full sentence!
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