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Girl's death in pool may stay mystery

A tissue sample from Kiana Appleby couldn't be tested to determine the cause of death.

Published September 15, 2005

TAMPA - A vital piece of an unfinished puzzle surrounding a little girl's death will never be known.

The Hillsborough County medical examiner learned Wednesday that a tissue sample from 8-year-old Kiana Appleby, who was found in Westchase's community pool in May, was too degraded to be tested to see if Kiana had a heart defect. The tissue was sent to Boston University for testing on June 15.

The medical examiner was waiting for the results to name a cause of death, which the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office needs to close the case. And Westchase's Community Association wants official police word before reconsidering how it manages the pool.

Kiana's father, Keith Appleby, just wants answers.

"I guess I really don't know how to feel," he said Wednesday. "I don't know what that changes. I guess I just would like to know what happened to my daughter."

Kiana's Dolphins swim team was evacuated from Westchase's community pool on May 5 when a storm began. About 30 other children gathered under a shelter, and one of the children noticed Kiana was missing. A staff member did a head count, checked the restrooms and walked around the pool, according to the sheriff's office. Kiana was spotted at the bottom of the pool.

"I appreciate the information, and we'll continue to monitor it," Westchase Community Association president Jim Mills said of Wednesday's news.

Boston University is one of only two places in the country that can test for Long Q-T Syndrome, a hereditary heart rhythm disorder.

Aubrey Milunsky, director of the Center for Human Genetics at Boston University, declined to comment.

[Last modified September 15, 2005, 01:04:09]

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