Lawsuit Filed after St. Louis Park Student Drowning Death

Updated: 05/10/2014 7:56 AM
Created: 05/09/2014 12:43 PM
By: Megan Stewart

The family of a 12-year-old boy who died after being pulled from a St. Louis Park school pool has filed a lawsuit against the school district and gym teacher.

Abdullahi Charif was found at the bottom of St. Louis Park Middle School's pool just before 9:00 a.m. on Feb. 27. He died two days later at Children's Hospital in St. Paul.

Shortly after, the St. Louis Park School District launched an internal investigation and the teacher on-duty was placed on administrative leave.

P.E. Teacher James Bigot said he never saw Charif in the deep end of the pool, but other swimmers told investigators they saw the boy playing and being pushed off the raft in the deep end. It wasn't until the pool was cleared and students were on their way to the locker room that a problem was discovered.

A Hennepin County pool inspection report taken the day of the incident showed several minor violations, including stating the lighting at the pool was well below the recommended level.

No charges were filed by Hennepin County after the findings.

The family repeatedly called for anyone with more information to come forward. The lawsuit claims Bigot failed to properly supervise Charif, despite knowing he couldn't swim, and used an iPad while he should have been watching the student.

It also alleges Bigot brought a dangerous floatation device and allowed the children to "roughhouse" on it and said the school board failed to have procedures in place to prevent Charif's death.

The lawsuit calls for a change in the swimming pool safety practices and seeks compensation for Charif's family.

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