WHITELAND — A 15-year-old girl who died after being pulled from the swimming pool at Whiteland High School on Tuesday had been doing laps with other students before she went under the water, school officials said.
The information was released during a press conference held Wednesday with Superintendent Dr. Patrick Spray.
"We grieve with this family as they endure the unimaginable," Spray said. "Our entire school community and especially our school staff and students are heartbroken."
According to Spray, the student was swimming laps with the other students during PE class when she went under the bulkhead, which divides the pool.
She was pulled from the water but did not survive.
That student has been identified as Alaina Dildine, 15.
READ | Whiteland student dies following medical emergency in school pool
"This young lady was such a beautiful human who loved her family, her friends, her community, art, animals and band," Spray said.
A lifeguard and an instructor were on the pool deck at the time, according to Spray, who said no other details were being released at this time.
"As educators and staff we take on the responsibility for student well being," Spray said. "This is a tremendous responsibility taken very seriously."
The Johnson County Sheriff's Office is investigating the incident.
In a statement released Thursday, Sheriff Duane Burgess said the following:
"We’ve started this process by assigning multiple detectives and meeting with school officials to begin the transfer of all information and evidence to our agency. Our investigators were present during the autopsy and are currently gathering additional information.
We are aware of the rumors, theories, and false information being spread on social media. We will thoroughly investigate every tip or piece of information we receive, but these things take time. We are asking the media and members of the public to respect the wishes and privacy of the family and allow us to conduct this investigation thoroughly and efficiently."
The Johnnson County Coroner's office says the official cause of death could take up to three weeks to release as they await toxicology results.
Additional counselors and other resources are being made available to students through the remainder of the school year.
The school canceled classes for Wednesday, May 17 and says staff will report to WCHS to plan for the students return on Thursday.
In a statement, Alaina's family asked for privacy and respect as they mourn the loss of Alaina.
This past Tuesday every parents’ worst nightmare became our reality. We lost our beloved daughter, Alaina, when she drowned during P.E. class at Whiteland Community High School.
Our entire family is deeply devastated by this unforeseen tragedy and requests privacy and respect from the media and the public as we mourn the loss of Alaina. We are in a state of profound grief and shock, and we ask for time and space to grieve and remember Alaina in peace.
A growing memorial for Alaina was outside of the high school on Thursday.
School will return on Thursday and resources will be available to students in need.
The school also offered a list of resources and tips.
Tips to help your child cope with grief:
- Be honest and give accurate information appropriate to your student’s ability to understand.
- Provide extra affection and reassurance. Death may bring up fears about their own safety or that of a loved one.
- Listen. When we show we are interested in their thoughts, youth have a lot to say about tragedies and grief.
- Encourage open expression of emotion through art, poetry, and conversation.
- Share your own feelings without overburdening your children. It is okay for children to know that you are experiencing and surviving your own grief.
- Continue daily routines for your children as much as possible.
- Be patient. Children may take longer than adults to resolve grief. Their processing of it may happen in stages. They may need to ask the same questions over and over.
Local Grief Counseling Groups
Brooke’s Place - Grief Support Resources
Common Sense Media - Talking to Your Kids about Difficult Topics
American Psychological Association - How to To Children About Difficult News
PBS.org - Helping Children with Tragic Events in the News
Clark-Pleasant Community School Corporation has several mental health resources available to students. Parents should reach out to their child’s school counselor to learn more about how they can receive additional, specific support.