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Defense Insists Teacher Did Try To Save Teen Who Drowned In School Pool

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EASTPOINTE (WWJ/AP) – What the real story? A defense lawyer is giving a different version of events that preceded the death of a teenager at a metro Detroit school pool.

Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith said Johnathan Sails, a substitute teacher, was found to be “grossly negligent” in the death of 14-year-old KeAir Swift, a 9th grader, who drowned during a remedial swim class at East Detroit High School.

But attorney Robert Leonetti said Sails was the first to jump into the pool to try to save KeAir, and that statements from witnesses and video will back him up.

Sails, 25, is charged with involuntary manslaughter in Swift’s death. There was a brief hearing Wednesday in Eastpointe District Court.

Authorities said Sails went to change clothes in a locker room before jumping into the pool, but Leonetti told reporters that’s not true.  He said Sails and another man were in the water before a third person finally was able to get the boy to the surface.

Smith said Sails was supposed to be monitoring the swim class, but wasn’t certified as a swim teacher and had misrepresented his Red Cross training to the school district.  The school apparently never verified Sails’ credentials.

KeAir, who reportedly went 14 minutes without oxygen to his brain, was rushed to the hospital where he died three days later after being taken off life support.

Sails faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

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