Lake Stevens Journal - Your hometown newspaper since 1960

 

By Pam Stevens
Managing Editor 

LSHS special needs student found in pool dies

 

June 11, 2013



After over a week on life support, Lake Stevens High School special needs student Fedrick Nifasha, 20, was removed from life support by his family on Sunday, June 9 at 4:21 p.m.

Nifasha was found at the bottom of the Lake Stevens High School pool on May 31 and was pulled out by the school’s Aquatics Manager, who is also a certified lifeguard.

Both the lifeguard and first responders performed life saving techniques on Nifasha before and as he was being taken to Providence Hospital.

“Fedrick’s mother and father wanted me to extend their thanks for the outpouring of sympathy and offers of assistance that the community has been so quick to offer,” said Sim Osborn, an attorney representing the family said in a statement. “No parent should have to suffer the anguish of burying a child, and the lengths that Fedrick’s parents have gone to give their children a better life makes this even more heartbreaking.”

The Nifasha family immigrated to the United States after spending years in a refugee camp in Tanzania, fleeing longstanding violence in their native Burundi. Nifasha was enrolled in a Lake Stevens School District special education program and was at the Lake Stevens High School pool as part of a field trip.

According the Lake Stevens School District’s website, “On May 31, 2013, Nifasha was rescued from the bottom of the pool. Students had been getting into the pool at the beginning of a swim session when a teacher noticed Nifasha was missing. The aquatics manager, who is a certified lifeguard, pulled Nifasha from the water and began life-saving efforts until first responders arrived and took over.”

Osborn and the family have concerns about how Nifasha ended up in the pool.

“Fedrick was a special-needs student who could not swim, something his program knew. What makes this even more distressing is that Fedrick had very limited English language skills, making him more dependent on those charged with caring for him. Our preliminary investigation tells us that the only reason they discovered Fedrick at the bottom of the pool was because the school staff noticed a student missing when they prepared to leave the school,” Osborn said.

Both the family and the school district are saddened by Nifasha’s death.

“Our hearts are broken by the loss of such a wonderful son and brother,” said Emmnuel Dismis, Nifasha’s father. “He’d already been through many challenges in his life and was looking forward to a bright future in the U.S. It seems so senseless that he could have been taken from us at such a young age.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Fedrick’s family,” said Jayme Taylor, district spokesperson. “We are deeply saddened by this loss, and thank the community members who have lent their support to Fedrick’s family and our students and staff members during this extremely difficult time.”

 

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