Family seeks answers after St. Louis Park student, 12, drowns - KMSP-TV

Family seeks answers after student drowns at St. Louis Park school

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Abdullahi Charif, 12 Abdullahi Charif, 12
ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. (KMSP) -

The family of a 7th-grade boy who was pulled from a swimming pool at St. Louis Park Middle School is demanding to know how it came to be that 12-year-old Abdullahi Charif died in gym class.

"We're all grieving and we just buried the son," Ali Warsame, the boy's father, told Fox 9 News.

On a frigid Sunday afternoon, a heartbroken family surrounded by a grieving community came together to say goodbye to Charif.

"I'm a little emotional, but I really appreciate the Somali community supporting us," Warsame said.

Beyond the grief and pain, some of the boy's relatives are also struggling to come to terms with their anger as they wait for answers.

"Imagine sending your son to school and the next minute, you are being told he died at 12 years old," Asha Ahmed, Charif's aunt, explained.

Officials in St. Louis Park haven't said much since Charif was pulled from the water on Thursday morning.

"We don't know what happened," Omar Jamal admitted. "We don't know what to tell you. The father took his kid to school, healthy and fine. The next thing he knows, he is brain dead in the hospital. What happened? We don't know."

The school has not specified how many children were in the class or how many teachers were supervising, but family members say Charif did not know how to swim.

"It's a real tragedy," said John Foss, CEO of Foss Swim School.

According to Foss, there are no mandated swimmer-to-teacher or lifeguard ratios.

"There's not as many rules as you might think," he admitted.

Foss also stressed that drowning is a silent, fast event that can be difficult to spot.

"Basically, they go under the water, they look up, all the air is out, and then they usually can't get back to the surface," Foss said. "When they do, they aren't yelling and screaming because they have no air in their lungs."

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