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By JESSE LEAVENWORTH, email@example.com
The Hartford Courant
12:14 PM EST, November 27, 2012
The freshman student who drowned in the Manchester High School pool last week was under water in the deep end for about 17 minutes as other students swam above him, a source said Monday.
A surveillance camera running at the pool last Wednesday showed Malvrick Donkor, 14, climbing down a ladder into the pool's deep end, according to the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing.
"There's no splashing, no flailing like you would typically think of," said the source, who viewed the surveillance tape. "He just slipped under water. Other kids were swimming over the top of him, not knowing he was down below."
The tape shows the class ending and students leaving the pool area. One student noticed Malvrick under water and told the teacher, who dove in and pulled Malvrick out, the source said.
Told of the account, Interim School Superintendent Richard Kisiel said he could not comment while the incident is being investigated. Kisiel said the swim class teacher, Thayer Redman, has been placed on paid administrative leave. Redman is also the outdoor boys track coach at the high school.
Asked whether Redman's leave is pending the outcome of an investigation into the drowning, Kisiel would not comment. The school has closed the pool and halted swim classes.
On Monday night, several hundred people gathered outside the high school to remember and honor Malvrick.
Principal Matthew Geary led the ceremony, which included a prayer. People then lit candles. Police ordered news reporters to leave school grounds during the vigil.
Geary earlier wrote a letter to parents on the high school's website, where he said the "outpouring of support from within the community and across the state has been unbelievable."
"While we all want to better understand what happened, our focus at this time is on helping all members of the school community through this huge loss," Geary wrote in the letter, posted at http://mhsredline.com/. "If you notice that your child is struggling at home, please do not hesitate to contact us.
"While many questions remain about this terrible tragedy, we have very little information to share at this time," he wrote. "An investigation is underway and will be done thoroughly by trained professionals. The Manchester High School pool is closed until further notice and the swimming unit has been removed from the Physical Education curriculum indefinitely."
Malvrick is the second area high school student to die after being found in a pool this year. Marcum Asiamah, 15, died Jan. 11 after being found in the East Hartford High School pool during a supervised gym class. Marcum's family said that he did not know how to swim and was looking forward to the swimming class.
A lawyer for Marcum's mother, Doris Amponsah, filed a notice of intent to sue weeks after the death and named the town, the board of education and other schools officials as potential defendants. As of Nov. 26, a suit had not been filed. East Hartford police say no arrests were made following an investigation into the boy's death.
In Manchester, the emergency call about Malvrick came at 10:21 a.m. and medics arrived three minutes later, according to the town fire department. School staff and police officers assigned to the school were performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation when medics arrived, according to the department.
Malvrick was taken to Manchester Memorial Hospital about 10:45 a.m., Kisiel said. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Malvrick, a recent immigrant from Ghana, played on the junior varsity soccer team. He wanted to be a doctor, his brother, Ato Donkor, a junior at the school, said last week.
"What happened on Wednesday was a terrible tragedy for Malvrick's family and friends, for those who were present during the emergency, for those who tried to provide help and support for Malvrick, and for the entire school community," Geary wrote. "We stand together now as a community in mourning over a student taken from his family and friends far too soon and it is together, through leaning on and looking out for each other, that we will make it through this difficult time.
"I ask that, regardless of your faith, you join me in keeping Malvrick's family and friends and all those impacted by this tragedy in your thoughts and prayers at this time."
Staff writer Melissa Traynor contributed to this story.
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