Parents of 14-year-old Akron student who drowned hired a law firm to investigate questions in connection with his death

Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 11:19 PM EDT

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - An Akron family says there are too many unanswered questions after their 14-year-old son drowned on July 21st, during what they’re told was an Akron Public Schools outing with the Ellet Football team.

Victoria and Timothy Washington have now hired a law firm to investigate whether safety rules were followed when student-athletes were taken on an outing to Melanie Lake in Uniontown.

Victoria Washington just buried her son on Friday, “No parent should have to worry if their kid is going to come back alive from a school event or any kind of event.”

The Washington’s said losing a child has always been their biggest fear. 14-year-old Toshaye, who his family says was a mathematical genius would have been a freshman this year at Akron Early College, and was permitted to join the Ellet football squad because the early college does not have a football program. He drowned on July 21st at Melanie Lake and was put on a ventilator at Akron Children’s Hospital for about a day and a half, before completely succumbing to his injuries.

One major concern is that the family has since learned there were about 50 students in attendance at the gathering where they were transported by school bus, but from what they’ve learned only one coach and one other adult were there to supervise.

Timothy Washington was Toshaye’s father, “From my understanding, the football coach had left to go get a grill and that’s when it happened and there was no other assistant coaches there, and the lifeguards wasn’t around.”

The couple says they thought their son was at a football camp, saying the school district never had their permission to take Toshaye swimming, “I didn’t know he was there. Cause if I would have known he was going I wouldn’t have let him go. Cause he couldn’t swim.”

Also troubling the family, they question how many lifeguards were on duty at Melanie Lake on July 21st at around 1:45 pm, and they wonder how long before anyone knew their son was in distress.

Jeremy Caudill is a managing partner with Melanie Lake, Inc. and tells 19 News there were 5 lifeguards on duty, and he says they pulled Toshaye from the deep end of the water, “The Melanie Lake employees who provided aid to Toshaye Pope were certified, lifeguards. We can only imagine the pain this young man’s family continues to go through and they remain in our prayers.”

But, Attorney Allen Tittle of the law firm Tittle and Perlmuter, who was hired to investigate the circumstances surrounding Toshay’s death say, witnesses are telling a different story about what they saw that day, and those witnesses say it was a concession stand worker who reportedly had to administer CPR, “We’ve already had some witnesses come forward and tell us these lifeguards were nowhere to be found.”

Toshaye’s parents say their son was a mathematical genius, cared about others before himself and was headed to Akron’s Early College. They feel what happened could have been prevented. Attorney Tittle says when they’re done gathering the evidence a wrongful death lawsuit could be filed with the courts, “If we find out that someone didn’t do their job, that they didn’t follow safety rules that should have been followed, we’re going to hold them accountable.”

Akron Public Schools previously told 19 News they are looking into what happened.

The attorney for the family is urging anyone who may have been at Melanie Lake on July 21st to please come forward if you can provide information on the tragedy that happened that day. Just log on to: Tittlelawfirm.com or call (216) 308-1522.

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