Attorney for drowning victim's family seeks information - KMSP-TV

Attorney for drowning victim's family seeks information

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Abdullahi Charif, 12 Abdullahi Charif, 12

The lawyer representing the family of the 12-year-old student who drowned during gym class at St. Louis Park Middle School is urging anyone who has information about the boy's death to contact police.

On Thursday, Abdullahi Charif was discovered at the bottom of the deep end of the swimming pool at the school. He suffered severe brain damage and died two days later as a result.


Charif drowned in a class where the teacher was not certified as a lifeguard, and that instructor was the only adult present, according to Fred Pritzker, the attorney representing Charif's family.

Pritzker also claims that sole teacher was responsible for looking after as many as 30 seventh grade students in the class, including Charif.

Charif's family members told Fox 9 News the boy did not know how to swim, and on Monday, Pritzker stated that his body was not discovered until after all the other students had left the pool and returned to the locker room.


The boy's parents are struggling to understand how they lost their son at school, and Pritzker said he hopes to find answers to the following questions:

1. How was only one adult -- who was not certified as a lifeguard -- allowed to supervise up to 30 students, including children who did not know how to swim?

2. How a child who could not swim was unsupervised and somehow allowed or encouraged to be in the deep end of the pool?

3. How this struggling child was not seen and rescued as he sank beneath the water?

4. How his submerged body remained undetected for a prolonged period of time?

5. What policies and procedures were in place to prevent this kind of occurrence, and why they were inadequate or not properly enforced?

6. What changes need to be made to prevent this tragedy from occurring to another child and his/her family?

"Any person that has information, come forward and tell the truth about what happened," Ali Warsame, Charif's father, urged.

In a statement, Pritzker said St. Louis Park Public Schools officials have refused to provide the family with any information regarding the circumstances of Charif's death.

"This lack of information only compounds the family's grief and mistrust," he said.

As such, Pritzker -- a 37-year lawyer with experience in personal injury and wrongful death claims -- is urging anyone with information to contact the St. Louis Park Police Department at 952-924-2600.


Although officials have declined to make any on-camera comment, the district did confirm that two separate investigations are currently underway.

One investigation centers on gym class protocol in the pool area, and the second is a police review of what transpired.

The teacher who was overseeing the class when Charif died has also been placed on paid administrative leave. Grief counselors have also been brought in to help students at the school, where the flag was lowered to half staff on Monday.

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