Police still looking for answers in East Detroit student’s death
By Kevin Bunch
Posted December 26, 2013
EASTPOINTE — East Detroit police, seeking answers to questions from the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office, continue to investigate the November pool-related death of an East Detroit high school freshman, KeAir Swift.County Prosecutor Eric Smith said he could not go into the details on just what questions his office is trying to get answered, as it could taint the investigation itself, but he does have concerns with aspects of the incident.
“There are certainly things that are very troubling in this case,” Smith said. “And those issues have to be resolved one way or the other, whether that’s through questions being answered in the investigation or something else.”
Smith said his department sent the officer in charge of the investigation more questions they wanted answered, and they are now awaiting the results. Smith said they have no timetable in mind, due to the breadth of the work.
“I don’t know how long it’ll take him to get to what he’s got to get to. There’s a whole lot of things that have to be researched and looked into,” Smith said. “We’ve spoken several times during his expanded investigation, and he’s been able to answer some of the questions, and he is still investigating other things.”
One reason the Prosecutor’s Office is taking the investigation so seriously, Smith said, is simply because of how unique the incident is. He said he could not recall another drowning incident in a high school in his time in the Prosecutor’s Office, let alone during a swimming class.
East Detroit Superintendent Joanne Lelekatch could not be reached by press time. In November, her office issued a statement saying that the school district is cooperating fully with the investigation and trying to find out all the details so it can prevent another incident from happening in the future.
“These are difficult times for us and the family,” Lelekatch said Nov. 11. “It’s not just an accident involving a student we all read about. It’s an accident involving one of our own. He was one of us.”
Once the investigation is completed, Smith said his office will sit down with members of the Eastpointe Police Department to determine if any criminal charges will come from the incident. He added that no outside agencies have gotten involved in the investigation at this time.
“We’ve never had a drowning in a high school, so people may not know which way that may go, but we are investigating,” Smith said. “If we do charge, I’m certain we will elaborate. We’re pretty vague on ongoing investigations; if they are still talking to school or state or witnesses, we don’t want to give anything away.”
Swift was a new student to the East Detroit school district, and East Detroit High School Assistant Principal Nicole Kirby told C & G in November that he quickly became well-liked by the students and staff with his playful, easygoing demeanor.
Eastpointe Police Lt. Dave Ernatt declined to comment on the investigation.
About the author
Staff Writer Kevin Bunch covered the communities of Eastpointe and Roseville, as well as Roseville Community Schools and East Detroit Public Schools. He worked at C&G Newspapers beginning in 2013, and is a graduate of Wayne State University and Henry Ford Community College. Kevin is also a 2015 Metcalf Institute for Marine & Environmental Reporting alumni. In 2016, Kevin began working for the International Joint Commission.
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