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New information released in NMU student drowning

PEIF pool area locked after soccer team workout

December 13, 2012
By JACKIE STARK - Journal Staff Writer ( , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE - The lifeguard on duty prior to the discovery of a body in a Northern Michigan University campus pool locked all the pool doors before ending her shift, according to NMU Public Safety and Police Services.

Arianna Alioto, 18 and a freshman on the NMU women's soccer team, drowned in the Physical Education Instructional Facility pool Nov. 30 after a team practice. Her body was seen by another Northern student working out in an area overlooking the pool roughly 30 minutes after the practice was scheduled to end.

"The investigation is ongoing," said Mike Bath, director of NMU Public Safety and Police Services, in a press release. "There is still work to do and we won't have the autopsy report back from the county medical examiner's office for a while - most likely sometime in January - but the initial round of interviews has been completed."

Article Photos

Northern Michigan University’s Physical Education Instructional Facility lap pool, seen here, was the scene of an NMU soccer player’s drowning Nov. 30. New details have been released on the death of Arianna Alioto, the 18-year-old freshman who drowned in the PEIF pool after a team practice. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser)

Bath said interviews were conducted with everyone who may have observed what happened that day, when the team gathered in the PEIF pool at 4 p.m. for a team practice that was scheduled to end at 5 p.m.

The entire women's soccer team, the lifeguard on duty during the practice, head soccer coach Matt Grandstand and the first responders who were at the scene were all interviewed by police.

The press release issued today states the interviews confirmed a lifeguard was present at the practice and no one in the pool saw or heard anyone in distress during or at the conclusion of the training session.

In a press conference held Dec. 3, NMU Athletic Director Forrest Karr said the lifeguard on duty during the practice was the university's head lifeguard.

According to the press release, information from the interviews conducted by Public Safety supports the lifeguard's statement that she had locked all the pool entrances - including the locker room doors - prior to turning in the pool key at the recreation sports front desk at approximately 5 p.m.

First responders also confirmed they had to unlock the pool door when responding to the emergency call placed after Alioto, still in her swim gear, was spotted in the water at about 5:35 p.m.

On Nov. 30, the pool had no activities scheduled from 5 p.m. until open swim began at 7 p.m.

According to NMU's Department of Recreational Sports Aquatic Manual, the lifeguard closing the pool must lock the pool office door, both locker room doors and must check all exterior doors before returning the pool key to the front desk.

The press release also states other details provided through the interviews indicate the recreation sports staff who responded to the emergency call did so quickly and performed emergency first aid procedures appropriately until EMS arrived on the scene, when Alioto was transported to Marquette General Hospital. She was pronounced dead at MGH at 6:18 p.m.

Details about Alioto's medical history are not being released by police at this time.

"The university is not at liberty to share the information that is protected by (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) and (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), the respective federal student and health privacy laws," Bath said.

According to the Columbia Daily Tribune, a newspaper in Alioto's hometown of Columbia, Mo., Alioto suffered from epilepsy and had a seizure midway through the second half of a postseason semifinal soccer game in 2010.

In that incident, Alioto had forgotten to take medication that prevents seizures, according to a soccer coach quoted in the article.

"We want to thank all of the people who we interviewed, and in some cases interviewed again to verify particular details. We know talking to us while trying to get over the shock of Ms. Alioto's death was not easy," Bath said. "Our sincere sympathies go out to the Alioto family, Arianna's teammates and friends, the lifeguard and recreation sports staff members, and any others who have been impacted by this tragedy."

Alioto's funeral took place Saturday in Missouri. The women's soccer team traveled together by bus, provided by the university, to attend the service. Funding for the trip was offered through private donations.

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.



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