Teacher heads to trial for Eastpointe student's drowning

East Detroit High School student drowns at school pool; teacher faces involuntary manslaughter charge

By Rod Meloni - Reporter, CFP ® , Dave Bartkowiak Jr.

EASTPOINTE, Mich. - KeAir Swift died this past November after he was pulled from the East Detroit High School pool.

The teacher on watch at the time, Jonathan Sails, is charged with involuntary manslaughter. It was revealed he did not have the proper certification to be a swim instructor. A judge decided Thursday that he will go to trial.

Darrel Fore, 15, was a fellow student of Swift's. During Thursday's preliminary hearing, Fore described what happened in the last moments of Swift's life. He said Swift jumped feet first off a diving board near several of his friends.

"He asked everybody if they could catch him when he jumps him, and they're like, 'Yes,'" said Fore.

However, the boys couldn't hold him up and he sank to the bottom. As for substitute teacher Sails, Fore said he did not know.

Attorney: "Do you know what (Sails) is doing from where you're at?"

Fore: "He was talking to the girls with his back turned toward us."

Attorney: "OK, so his back is to the pool?"

Fore: "Yes."

KeAir's family sat crying in the front row as the teen went on to say Sails thought the boys were kidding when they told him Swift was drowning. Sails went into the locker room, came back out a minute or two later and decided to try to save Swift.

Attorney: "What does (Sails) do after he unbuttons his shirt?"

Fore: "He jumped in, started at first, and then he went in and said he can't swim."

Attorney: "Who said he can't swim?"

Fore: "Him."

Attorney: "OK. Mr. Sails said he can't swim?"

Fore: "Yes. He said 'cause it's too deep, he can't swim."

KeAir's mother, Lakesha Swift, is happy about the judge's decision to send this to trial.

"Amen. He's bounded over. He needs to pay for what he caused. He caused me to lose my son," she said.

Lakesha Swift also said she thinks the other teacher who was in the class that day should face charges, too.

The other teacher in the pool area at the time was James Reed. He had just been hired days before to take over the gym class. He was not in the pool at the time Swift drowned. However, Sails' attorney believes Reed is the one who should have been charged.

Reed faces no charges at this time.

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