Student drowning labeled accidental

Shaina James

Autopsy results for the death of NMU freshman soccer player Arianna Alioto confirmed the cause of death was accidental drowning.

Alioto, of Columbia, Mo., was found unconscious in the PEIF pool on Friday, Nov. 30 after the soccer team had practice in the pool, which ended shortly before 5 p.m.

Arianna Alioto was found unconscious in the PEIF pool Friday, Nov. 30. Autopsy results confirmed that the cause of death was accidental drowning.

“The autopsy report did confirm what we stated earlier, that there was no physical trauma to the body,” said director of NMU Public Safety and Police Services, Mike Bath in a news release. “However, it did not have any other conclusive findings related to the incident other than that Ms. Alioto’s death was due to drowning and the nature of the incident was accidental.”

According to the autopsy, Alioto drowned sometime between 4:45 and 5 p.m., Bath said. After several interviews with teammates, investigators concluded that Alioto never left the pool area. Several of Alioto’s teammates looked for her around the facility after practice hoping to leave together, but could not find her, said Director of Communications and Marketing Cindy Paavola.

“The reality is several friends noticed she wasn’t present,” Paavola said. “People thought she was in different places.”

A student in the second-story workout area, which overlooks the pool, spotted Alioto in the shallow end of the lap pool, near Lane 4 and reported it to the facility’s information desk around 5:30 p.m. according to the police report.

No one in the pool or workout area saw any distress or struggle during the practice and even though Alioto was recovering with an ACL injury, she showed no sign of pain, according to the police report.

“There were a lot of different speculations,” Paavola said.

Paavola also asserted the lifeguard on duty did follow protocol. She said the lifeguard on duty cleaned up and walked around the pool, turned off the lights and locked the doors. It is documented that the lifeguard turned in her key  shortly after 5 p.m.

“We can’t draw conclusions and there is no way to say 100 percent the time of the death,” Paavola said. “If Arianna did drown around 4:45 p.m., there were a lot of people who didn’t see her.”

The autopsy report done by the Marquette County Medical Examiner’s Office was received by NMU Public Safety and Police Service on Friday, Jan. 18, completing the police incident report.

“Arianna’s drowning is a tragedy,” said NMU President David Haynes in a news release. “The Alioto family, Arianna’s friends, the Wildcat soccer team and the NMU campus continues to deal with shock of her death.”