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      Cause of Northern Michigan University soccer player's death released

      NMU Photograph

      Accidental drowning has been cited as the cause of death of a Northern Michigan University student-athlete. The university has completed its report on the November 30 drowning of redshirt freshman soccer player Arianna Alioto.

      The 18-year-old native of Columbia, Mo. was found unresponsive in the pool on November 30. The autopsy report from the Marquette County Medical Examiner's Office was the last piece of information needed for NMU Public Safety to complete their incident report.

      After the drowning was reported, many questions surrounded the circumstances of the incident, including how long Alioto was in the pool before she was discovered.

      The midfielder was participating in a coach-led workout with her teammates in the PEIF pool. There was one lifeguard on duty for the workout, but the coaches in attendance are all first aid certified, per NCAA regulations. Head Coach Matt Grandstand was in attendance.

      The team left the pool area around 5 p.m. NMU spokesperson Cindy Paavola told Upper Michigan's Source that the police report indicated that everyone who was in the pool for the workout indicated that they did not observe any distress or an emergency situation. Upper Michigan's Source has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for a copy of the full police incident report, but has not received it as of this time.

      Paavola said the police report included an interview with the lifeguard who was on duty.

      "In that report, she indicates that she did view and scan the pool," said Paavola.

      Paavola said that interview indicated that the lifeguard turned off the lights and locked the doors. She left the pool area shortly after the team did. There is some lighting in the pool area that remains on at all times.

      Further interviews in the police report said a group of four people actually entered the pool area after the lifeguard had left. They did not enter the actual pool. The four people included new employees on an orientation tour. They were being shown where things were located. They left after a brief period and re-locked the doors. They never turned on the lights, and said they did not notice anyone in the pool.

      "We just cannot speculate on why her situation was not identified immediately," Paavola said.

      At approximately 5:35 p.m., a student working out in a second floor exercise area told PEIF staff they saw someone in the lap section of the pool. The first responders unlocked the doors to enter the pool area.

      Paavola said the medical findings related to what may have caused the drowning were inconclusive.

      "In the police report, some of the folks who were interviewed do reference her being on medication and do reference her having told them that she had epilepsy," she said.

      Paavola said it was not the team's first workout in the pool.

      "Many of the teammates who were at practice said that it was a strong workout, that it pushed them, and that they were tired," she said. "It was in the police report that they indicated that Arianna looked tired, but they also said that everybody looked tired. But they didn't say that it was an unusual workout in any way. It was a pretty standard workout for an off-season pool practice."

      Paavola said according to the police report, some of the NMU soccer team members who were interviewed said they felt that Alioto was a strong swimmer.

      "One of the reasons she was placed in the lane she was in was she was one of the stronger swimmers," said Paavola. "You always put your weakest swimmers in the lane closest to the pool deck, she was in lane four."

      No procedures at the PEIF pool have been changed since the drowning.

      "The university is always involved in studying its processes and its procedures and its facilities, so that's not really a new situation, but this situation certainly makes us look more closely at some of the different things related to the pool area," Paavola said. "This situation certainly gave us a few questions to answer, so we'll be working on that in the upcoming months as we go forward."

      ORIGINAL STORY - Friday, 5:45 a.m.

      The cause of death of Northern Michigan University redshirt freshman soccer player Arianna Alioto has been determined to be accidental according to the autopsy report provided to NMU Public Safety and Police Services by the Marquette County Medical Examinerâ??s Office.

      Alioto, 18, a native of Columbia, MO, participated in a practice with her teammates in the university pool at the NMU Sports Complex on Nov. 30. She was later found unresponsive in the pool.

      â??The autopsy report did confirm what we stated earlier, that there was no physical trauma to the body. However, it did not have any other conclusive findings related to the incident other than that Ms. Aliotoâ??s death was due to drowning and the nature of the incident was accidental. The Marquette County Medical Examinerâ??s Office is required by state law to investigate all accidental deaths,â?? said Mike Bath, Director of NMU Public Safety and Police Services, which oversaw the investigation.

      The police incident report is now considered completed, according to Bath.

      â??Information gathered through the investigation interviews lead us to believe that Ms. Alioto never left the pool and most likely drowned between 4:45 and 5 p.m.,â?? Bath said. â??No one in the pool or Sports Complex workout areas saw anyone in distress during or at the conclusion of the practice.â??

      It was approximately 5:35 p.m. (EST) when a student in the second-story workout area, which overlooks the pool, identified the possible drowning situation. According to the police report, Aliotoâ??s teammates were looking for her throughout the complex, hoping to leave together as they had come to practice, when emergency personnel arrived, responding to the 911 call placed by the facilityâ??s employees.

      â??Ariannaâ??s drowning is a tragedy,â?? said NMU President David Haynes. â??The Alioto family, Ariannaâ??s friends, the Wildcat soccer team and the NMU campus continue to deal with the shock of her death. While the investigation is completed as far as the police report goes, I donâ??t know yet what kind of changes might come out of our ongoing discussions about the drowning. What I do know at this time is that Arianna Alioto was a wonderful young lady and her loss is felt deeply, both here at NMU and back in her hometown. She is dearly missed.â??