UNIONTOWN, Ohio — A student who was preparing to enter the ninth grade at Akron Early College High School has died after school officials tell 3News he drowned at Melanie Lake swimming park in Springfield Township last Thursday afternoon.
"The Akron Public Schools family is saddened by the news of the passing of this young man and has begun an inquiry into just what happened," according to a statement provided to 3News from Superintendent Christine Fowler Mack. "We are offering grief counseling and ask for prayers for the family."
The boy has since been identified as 14-year-old Toshaye Pope, who was on an outing with the Ellet football team in hopes of making the squad. Today, he is being remembered as an intelligent leader amongst his peers.
"So sad, so sad," Larry Bender, Toshaye's principal at Hyre Community Learning Center, said. "He was a leader either way you look at it. Whether it was through academics, sports, he was a true, true leader."
He was well respected not only by the kids but by the staff in the building. His mom and dad were so supportive of him.
Police and the school district are investigating the incident to determine what went wrong. A witness account posted online claims Toshaye and other boys were swimming in the deep end near the diving boards when someone yelled that Toshaye was drowning. That same account was also critical of the lifeguard response, saying they weren't around.
While at the park today, WKYC's cameras found lifeguard chairs empty in the area where the incident reportedly occurred. The owner of Melanie Lake, which was formerly known as Kim Tam Park, issued the following statement on Facebook about the situation on Sunday evening:
Regardless of the circumstances, it's another young life gone too soon in the Akron community.
"He was well respected not only by the kids but by the staff in the building," Bender said. "His mom and dad were so supportive of him. ... He was an awesome young man that had a bright future ahead of him."
Editor's note: Video in the player above was originally published in an unrelated story on July 24, 2022.