Swim Coach Found Criminally Negligent in 13-Year-Old's Drowning

A Southlake swimming coach will get probation after being found criminally negligent Friday in the 2016 drowning death of a 13-year-old student athlete.

Tracey Anne Boyd was accused of criminal negligence for failing to watch 13-year-old Elise Cerami during practice in June 2016. At some point during her swim, Cerami sank to the bottom of the pool and drowned.

A jury found Boyd guilty of negligence Friday; Boyd faced up to two years behind bars, however both prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed Boyd should receive probation.

Cerami was a member of the North Texas Natadores, a youth swim club that is overseen by the Carroll ISD and uses the district's facilities.

She was swimming practice laps, when for some unknown reason, she went below the water and never resurfaced.

Some of the other kids eventually realized she did not come back up and tried to pull her out of the pool.

One of Cerami's coaches began performing CPR until paramedics arrived. She died at the hospital.

It was about a year later that a Tarrant County grand jury indicted Boyd, one of the assistant coaches for the swim club, in connection with the teen's death.

During opening arguments, prosecutors said Boyd failed to do her one job that morning, which was to monitor the swimmers using two specific lanes of the pool. They told the jury surveillance video from inside the aquatic center will show that she walked away from the area right around the time Cerami got into the water -- and did not return for almost 10 minutes.

They said while Boyd was gone, Cerami got ahead of the other girls she was swimming with, which is why no one likely saw her go under. At the time, they were doing an exercise with kick boards that kept their heads -- and eyes -- above the water.

Prosecutors said it wasn't until the girls did another exercise that required their faces to be in the water, that they spotted Elise at the bottom of the deep end. And by that time, there was no saving her.

Boyd's defense team painted a much different picture of the events. They said their client briefly left a walkway, or "bulkhead," near the lanes to go speak to another coach about the practice -- but that she remained right by the pool the entire time. 

They dispute how much time passed from when Elise went under the water to when she was pulled out of the pool -- and planned to call a witness who woul.d testify that it was not as long as prosecutors are making it out to be.

They also accused Southlake police of doing a "very poor" job investigating the incident, noting detectives waited nearly 10 months to obtain a search warrant for the surveillance video -- by which time, they argue, key pieces of video that could help exonerate Boyd were dumped from the servers.

After Elise's death, her family started a foundation called Swim 4 Elise. The organization seeks to raise awareness about water safety. It also provides scholarships for swimmers and helps lifeguards become certified.

Stay tuned for updates as we follow this story.

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