High School Sports

3 students hospitalized and West Valley football activities canceled after incident at UAF pool

A swimming incident Friday night at the University of Alaska Fairbanks pool sent three high school football players to the hospital and resulted in the suspension of preseason activities for the West Valley High School football team, the Fairbanks school district said Saturday.

One student had been released and two were still hospitalized as of noon Saturday, according to a written statement from the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District.

The West Valley football team had rented the pool for the evening, UAF spokeswoman Marmian Grimes said.

Witnesses say students were treading water in the deep end of the pool when “at least one of them” sank to the bottom, according to Grimes.

An on-duty lifeguard pulled three teens out of the water, Grimes said. When an ambulance crew arrived, they found three students unresponsive and took them to the hospital, she said.

Grimes said adults were present at the time of the incident, but she didn’t know how many.

UAF police are investigating, according to the statement from the school district. So are West Valley administrators, “under guidance from district administration,” the statement said.

Preseason football activities have been suspended pending further notice, the statement said. The official opening day of high school football practice is Wednesday, but many teams meet before the official start of the season for camps and other activities.

“Crisis response support is available for student athletes affected by the incident,” the district’s statement said. “Information about how to make use of the services has been shared with the families of student athletes present at the Friday night activity.”

Phone calls to a school district spokeswoman were not returned Saturday.

West Valley is scheduled to open the football season on Aug. 16 with a game in Wasilla.

Beth Bragg

Beth Bragg wrote about sports and other topics for the ADN for more than 35 years, much of it as sports editor. She retired in October 2021. She's contributing coverage of Alaskans involved in the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Madeline McGee

Madeline McGee is a general assignment reporter for the Daily News.