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Girl, 16, Drowns In Club Whirlpool

Tue., May 28, 1996, midnight

Hundreds of horrified classmates watched as a 16-year-old girl pinned by suction to the bottom of a whirlpool drowned at a post-prom party early Saturday.

Students said Tanya Nickens struggled to free herself from a grate at the bottom of the 3-foot-deep tub for at least 5 minutes, while others tried to pull her from the gurgling water.

The Lakewood high school student and about six of her friends had just hopped into the tub when she ducked under water, witnesses said. The suction jets were turned on at the same time and she became trapped against the grate, said Kevin McHugh, manager of the club where about 300 students were attending the supervised, alcohol-free party.

Jon Soto, 16, said he and another boy jumped in but could not pull their friend out. A lifeguard jumped in and another called for emergency help before a worker went to the basement to shut off the jets, McHugh said.

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