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Girl, 15, drowns in pool at community center in Zephyrhills

ZEPHYRHILLS — A 15-year-old girl drowned on Tuesday afternoon while doing laps in a pool at the Lake Bernadette Community Center, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.

Authorities wouldn't release the girl's name or address pending notification of her family, but friends identified her as Valeria. They said she and her twin, Anastasia, attended Zephyrhills High School.

They also said she had planned to try out for the school swim team as a sophomore this fall.

Dan Nesselt, manager of the community center, said the girl's last name was Carsen.

Sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll said the girl was "possibly training for a team" while doing laps.

"Someone saw her on the bottom of the pool, and a couple of boys pulled her out," Doll said.

The community center does not employ lifeguards, Nesselt said, adding that about 15 people were at the pool when the incident occurred.

A staff member at the center attempted CPR, he said.

Around 3 p.m., Pasco County Fire Rescue officials alerted the Sheriff's Office that the girl was unresponsive, Doll said.

Detectives from the Sheriff's Office arrived on the scene, he said, because the agency always responds to death investigations.

The girl was taken to Florida Hospital Zephyrhills, said an official at Pasco County Fire Rescue. She was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Foul play is not suspected, Doll said.

"We are investigating to see if there's a medical condition that she had," he said.

On Tuesday afternoon, friends and acquaintances of the girl gathered in parking lots and sidewalks near the pool off Gulf Links Boulevard.

A tall white fence surrounded the pool, one of two at the community center.

Chris Bruno, 15, of Zephyrhills, said he had classes with the girl.

"One of my friends texted me," he said.

"I wouldn't want this to happen to my worst enemy."

"I can't believe this happened," said Crystal Marshall, 18, of Zephyrhills. "I don't know what to say. I feel for the family."

Camille C. Spencer can be reached at cspencer@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4609.

Girl, 15, drowns in pool at community center in Zephyrhills 07/21/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 21, 2009 11:16pm]
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