UPDATE (5/30/2023): The Johnson County Coroner said Alaina Dildine’s cause of death was determined to be drowning as a result of a seizure.
The manner of death was ruled accidental, the coroner said.
WHITELAND, Ind. — A 15-year-old student has died after drowning in a swimming pool during physical education class on Tuesday.
Family has identified her as Alaina Dildine. A memorial GoFundMe has been set up by friends of the family.
Clark-Pleasant Community School Corporation originally referred to Alaina’s death as the result of a medical emergency. It was Johnson County Coroner Michael Pruitt who later confirmed that the student was pulled from the Whiteland Community High School swimming pool.
Clark-Pleasant Community School Corporation clarified on Tuesday evening that Alaina did in fact drown in the pool and that the drowning occurred during P.E. class.
“Despite the efforts of our staff and emergency responders, the student has passed away,” the school corporation said. “The specific cause and circumstances surrounding this tragedy are not yet known, and a thorough investigation will take place.”
On Wednesday, the school corporation spoke further about the incident. According to the school superintendent, Alaina was swimming laps in the pool during P.E. class before she went under at around 11:45 a.m.
The school said both a lifeguard and an instructor were on the pool deck during P.E. class.
The school would not answer further questions including how long Alaina was underwater before anyone noticed. The school said the investigation is still ongoing in cooperation with law enforcement.
The Johnson County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the death.
Students and friends began putting together a memorial for Alaina outside the high school natatorium. The memorial featured flowers, pictures and chalk for students to write messages to their fallen classmate.
“Even though I didn’t know her that well, it’s very heartbreaking,” student Abbigail Watson said.
“This death has rocked this school,” student Angela Stofer said.
Students said they feel the impact even if they did not know her very well. Many said it has been very difficult to process.
“Knowing that someone who was just here at school yesterday doesn’t come back the next day is really hard to think about,” Stofer said.
Whether passing her in the hallway or sitting near her in class, students all said the same thing. They describe Alaina as a student who tried to brighten anyone’s day.
“In ceramics she would always complement my projects,” Watson described. “Like she would always try her best to kind of lift people up, even if they were looking down about their project.”
Some students added that they are bothered such a tragedy occurred under supervision.
“I don’t know the full story, but it’s like disappointing in some ways,” Watson said.
She and other classmates said they would want Alaina to know she meant something to everyone.
“She deserves to know there’s people who cared for her, even if they didn’t know her very well,” Watson said.
Pruitt said the official cause of death is pending and will take up to three weeks to determine. Her name was originally withheld at the request of her family.
The school corporation extended their deepest sympathies to the friends and family of Alaina. Students ended up being dismissed from Whiteland Community High School just before 1 p.m. on Tuesday.
School will resume on Thursday.
The pool will be closed for the remainder of the year, the school superintendent said.
Counselors were provided to any student who may need their assistance.
“We understand that this news is profoundly upsetting for our entire school community, and we are here to support our students, staff, and families as we grieve together,” the school corporation said.
Clark-Pleasant Community School families originally learned of the tragic death after the school corporation sent an email to parents.
The email read:
It is with great sadness that we inform you that a WCHS student has passed away following a medical emergency at the high school this morning. At this time school and emergency officials are trying to determine exactly what happened.
We will provide an update as soon as possible.
“Words fall short in expressing the grief and sorrow our entire school community is experiencing at this moment,” the school corporation said.
The school asked that everyone keep the student and their family and friends in their thoughts and said memorial service information will be shared in the future.