AKRON, Ohio (WJW) – The family of an incoming freshman who drowned on a school football team outing is speaking out through their attorney.
They hired an attorney to investigate the tragic death of their son and to determine whether all safety rules were followed before he drowned.
“He was kind to everyone and everyone loved him, whether it was the students, the staff. He was remarkable,” said Larry Bender, principal of Robert Hyre Community Learning Center in Akron.
That’s the middle school 14-year-old Toshaye Pope attended before heading off to high school this fall.
“Academically, he was leaving us to go to Akron Early College, but also playing football for Ellet High School, so he had the desire and drive to succeed,” Bender said.
Last Thursday, Pope was on an outing with the Ellet football team at Melanie Lake in Uniontown when he drowned.
According to Attorney Allen Tittle, his family did not know what was planned for the team until they received a call to rush to Akron Children’s Hospital where he died.
“God has another plan for him, you know, it was time for him to go meet the good Lord and we’re suffering here from it now,” said Bender.
In a statement, the family’s attorney said, “This young man was the kind of son every parent would hope for – not only was he a scholar-athlete, but also his positive personality could light up the room.”
It goes on to say, “A freshman football player’s family should not have to worry about whether their son is going to come home from team events. We intend to get answers for Toshaye’s grieving family and request prayers as they try to get through this unthinkable loss.”
“Some things he excelled in. Some things, he tried, but again it all went back to his desire. He wanted to be the best that he could be at anything,” said Bender.
A managing partner of Melanie Lake also released a statement:
“We are heartbroken about this tragic accident!! The safety of everyone who comes to swim at our park is our utmost priority! At the time of the accident, we had five lifeguards on duty,” Jeremy Caudill wrote. “Our deepest sympathies go out to the family and loved ones of this young man who have suffered this horrific loss!!! Our Melanie Lake Family is thinking about you and mourning with you.”
“Mom and dad, they were very supportive of him. They knew he was not perfect, no one is and he would make a mistake, but he would always learn from it. That’s what’s important,” said Bender.
The law firm says they will investigate whether the safety rules were followed by all involved, and if they were not, hold those responsible people accountable for their actions.
According to a GoFundMe page, Toshaye’s mother says he could hardly swim.
The principal of Hyre Community Learning Center says family and friends will gather at the school after his funeral on Friday.