Three West Valley high school students, who nearly drowned in an incident Friday at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Patty Center pool, have all been released from the hospital, and the school’s football season is proceeding as originally scheduled with a new acting head coach, according to a Wednesday news release from the school district.
The incident occurred during what school district spokesperson Sharice Walker previously described as a “team building exercise” that was part of an optional preseason football activity. According to Walker, approximately 40 West Valley students were participating in the practice and seven members of the West Valley football coaching staff were present. Whether the coaches involved remain on the coaching staff is unclear.
Two of the students transported to the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital were released over the weekend, and the third was released Tuesday.
The news release states the West Valley football team began its season Wednesday, as scheduled, with Norm Davis serving as acting head coach in place of Hessner, with no mention of Hessner being officially released from the staff. Wednesday marked the first day Alaska high school football teams are allowed to hold official practices, according to Alaska School Activities Association rules.
Hessner, in his first year at the helm of the program after serving as an assistant coach, replaced Kyle Allison at the conclusion of the 2018 season. He is also the senior instructor for the school’s Marine Corps Junior ROTC program.
According to the district, “Davis is a teacher at University Park Elementary and has helped coach football and wrestling at West Valley for many years.”
“We are grateful to the staff at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital. Risk management for the school district is performing an investigation and is in the process of scheduling participant interviews,” the school district news release states.
The UAF Police Department began an investigation immediately after the incident, according to UAF spokesperson Marmian Grimes.
According to Walker, West Valley High School began an investigation Sunday under guidance from the district.
West Valley plays its first game Aug. 16 against Wasilla.
Contact Newsminer sportswriter Laura Stickells at 459-7530. Follow her on Twitter:@fdnmsports.