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Oregon Episcopal student drowns at Hillsboro aquatic center

Nabila Maazouz was a member of the Liberty High School swim team. Shute Park Aquatic Center staff found her under the pool cover Wednesday evening.

HILLSBORO, Ore. — A 14-year-old student at Oregon Episcopal School was found dead under a pool cover following a Wednesday evening practice at the Shute Park Aquatic and Recreation Center, according to Hillsboro police.

Nabila Maazouz was a member of the Liberty High School swim team.

While still in the pool, team members put the cover on the pool after practice and later noticed that Maazouz was missing, police said.

The pool staff removed the cover and a lifeguard found her, about 20 to 25 minutes after the cover was put on. Medics and lifeguards unsuccessfully tried to revive her. 

Police said it was unclear how she ended up under the pool cover. Investigators do not suspect foul play. The case remains under investigation.

“This is the worst kind of call, imaginable. Not one of us ever wants to come to something like this. It hurts, it’s hard to see, it was hard for firefighters and medics that were here last night, it was hard for our officers,” Hillsboro Police Sgt. Eric Bunday said, “It was especially hard on those lifeguards. This is a heartbreaking situation."

An avid swimmer, it was Maazouz's first year on swim team.

KGW's Morgan Romero spoke with her older sister over the phone Thursday. Sarah Maazouz says Nabila's sudden death doesn't seem real. She describes her as happy, caring and active and she wants Nabila to be remembered as a young girl who always had a smile on her face. Curious about the world around her, Nabila was fascinated with space and wanted to be an astronaut.

But her life was cut short.

"We're looking into whether she was in the pool at the time the tarp was pulled over. We don't know if she had drowned prior to that or after. We do know she was an active participant in the practice,” Sgt. Bunday said.

Tyler Nightingale, a technician with Superior Pool Covers, met our crew at the aquatic center to take a look at the cover on the outdoor pool.

“It's a weighted insulated foam cover,” Nightingale said. “It does look like it's attached.”

He says at this pool there are multiple covers that take more than one person to pull in sections across the pool; this type of weighted cover can get heavy.

"It's a slow process so to cover somebody up would be pretty hard,” Nightingale said. “That's just really sad somebody was able to cover it with somebody in there and not notice.”

Whether that's what happened is one of many questions still unanswered - the biggest unknown police are trying to solve.

“We really want to get some answers for why this happened; why did this young lady lose her life tragically last night?” Sgt. Bunday said, “This is a heartbreaking tragedy for everyone involved. Our hearts go out to the kids that were here, coaches, staff here at the center, to the family of Nabila and everyone else who was touched by this tragedy.”

The Shute Park Aquatic and Recreation Center was closed all day Thursday. KGW was told Thursday evening no decision has been made about when it will reopen.

Oregon Episcopal School released the following statement Thursday morning:

The entire OES community is deeply saddened by the loss of Nabila Maazouz, a ninth-grader at our school. Her passing will be felt profoundly throughout OES and beyond, and our hearts are with Nabila’s family and friends. Our counselors and chaplains are supporting students, faculty and staff who are grieving, and students are making use of quiet spaces on campus to reflect and share as they process this difficult news.

Hillsboro School District sent the following statement regarding Maazouz's tragic drowning:

"The Hillsboro School District is shocked and saddened by the tragic drowning death of Oregon Episcopal School freshman and Liberty High School Swim Team member Nabila Maazouz. Specially-trained counselors and mental health specialists from the District’s Flight Team have been present at both Liberty and OES today, providing support to students and staff. 

Any death, even if the person wasn’t known to you, can bring up feelings and emotions related to other losses such as shock, sadness, anxiety and anger. We are encouraging parents to check in with their children today to see how they are feeling, and to refer to the grief and loss resources on our website for more information about how to support their child during this difficult time.

Our hearts are broken for the Maazouz family. Our deepest condolences go out to them and to Nabila’s friends, classmates, and all who knew her."

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