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Family of Fargo South drowning victim plans to file wrongful death suit

FARGO -- The family of a teen who died after being pulled unconscious from the Fargo South High School pool intends to file a wrongful death suit, according to a court filing.

FARGO -- The family of a teen who died after being pulled unconscious from the Fargo South High School pool intends to file a wrongful death suit, according to a court filing.

Frederic Ndererimana, 19, was in the pool with his high school gym class on Feb. 18, 2014, when he was rescued. He died March 8, 2014, at Essentia Health.

The news of his family's plans to sue came through the filing of a probate case Wednesday in Cass County District Court.

Because Ndererimana's estate needs a representative before the family can bring a wrongful death suit, his brother, Gabriel Rukundo of Fargo, applied through the court to be the representative. Rukundo's application says the task should fall to him because Ndererimana's parents are dead and his sister, Beatrice Mukashema, is in a refugee camp in Rwanda, Africa.

The court filing does not say who will be the target of the lawsuit or how much money will be sought. A similar case in St. Cloud, Minn., in which a 13-year-old drowned in a school pool in 1999, led to a suit against the school district there and resulted in a $500,000 settlement for the family, according to a report in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

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AnnMarie Campbell, a spokeswoman for Fargo Public Schools, said the district has not received notice of a lawsuit concerning Ndererimana's death. The district has designated attorney Howard Swanson of Grand Forks to handle the matter, she said.

During the Feb. 18, 2014, incident at Fargo South, there were two teachers on the pool deck, and at least one of them was a certified lifeguard, the school district has said.

At the time, the district, which operates three pools, did not have a written policy on pool safety. Ndererimana's death prompted the district to draft one, Campbell said.

The district's written policy requires that a certified lifeguard be present whenever a pool is in use. A lifeguard cannot simultaneously serve as a teacher or coach, or have any added duties that could distract them from watching the pool, according to the policy.

Messages left for Swanson and the attorney for Ndererimana's estate, Mark Hellerud of Ada, Minn., were not returned Thursday. Attempts to reach Rukundo by phone were unsuccessful.

When the suit will be filed is unclear, but the statute of limitations for doing so expires March 8, two years after Ndererimana's death.

Related Topics: FARGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS
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