NMU drowning ruled accidental

MARQUETTE – Accidental drowning has been confirmed as the cause of death of 18-year-old Northern Michigan University soccer player Arianna Alioto, according to the Marquette County Medical Examiner’s Office autopsy report.

“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. Alioto’s death was due to drowning and the nature of the incident was accidental,” Mike Bath, NMU director of NMU Public Safety and Police Services, said in a written statement released by the university this morning.

Alioto, a redshirt freshman and a native of Columbia, Mo., died Nov. 30 in the university’s Physical Education Instructional Facility pool following a team practice.

Bath, whose agency oversaw the investigation, said the NMU police incident report is now considered complete.

“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.,” Bath said. “No one in the pool or sports complex workout areas saw anyone in distress during or at the conclusion of the practice.”

The statement cites the NMU police report, saying Alioto’s teammates were looking for her throughout the sports complex after the practice was finished – hoping to leave together, as they had come to practice as a group – when emergency personnel arrived, responding to the 911 call placed by the facility’s employees.

Information released by the university prior to today on the timeline of events leading up to Alioto’s drowning has been sparse.

Police have said the soccer team was scheduled to have a team practice in the pool from 4 to 5 p.m. Nov. 30.

Police also said Alioto was spotted in the water at roughly 5:35 p.m. that day by another NMU student working out in an area overlooking the pool. When PIEF staff members entered the pool area to attempt to rescue Alioto, who was still in her swim gear, the exterior doors were locked.

Police said the university’s head lifeguard was the only lifeguard on duty during the soccer practice and that the pool room key was turned in by that lifeguard at the PIEF front desk at approximately 5 p.m.

“Arianna’s drowning is a tragedy,” NMU Interim President David Haynes said in the written statement. “The Alioto family, Arianna’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 don’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.”