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‘She would never go near the water’: Teen's family raises questions about her death at Pere Marquette

Posted at 9:42 PM, Oct 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-25 19:54:42-04

***Update: As of Oct. 25, the officials at GoFundMe emailed FOX 17 to say that the money from the GoFundMe has been transferred to Lowe's sister Breyana McCurty, after verifying that she was in fact the sister.***

Shirley McCurty remembers one of the last conversations she had with her granddaughter Taleah Lowe.

“I said, ‘Don’t go out there on the lake ‘cause you’ll mess around and drown and won’t nobody find you',” Shirley recalled during a Zoom interview on Tuesday afternoon. “And she said, ‘Grandma, you’re crazy’ and started laughing.”

Even though Taleah laughed, McCurty knew she took her advice seriously because Taleah feared the water.

“She would never go near the water. She loved the beach. You would never see her in the water but you would see her on the beach,” said Taleah’s aunt Angela Lane. “She would never get in the water and she made it known to people that was close to her that she could not swim. She could not — she would not — get in the water. She had a fear of it.”

Lane said she's feared the water ever since she was a little girl. However, last Friday her body was recovered from the water near Pere Marquette.

READ MORE: 18-year-old from South Haven drowns at Pere Marquette Beach in Muskegon

“We want people to know that Taleah was a very bright, intelligent, smart, fun, loving, outgoing girl,” Lane said. “We also want people to know that Taleah could not swim. She had a disability, partial paralysis in her left arm from birth.”

Taleah’s older sister, Breyana McCurty, began to cry when Lane talked about her disability.

Shirley said Taleah couldn’t even wave her arm fully because of her disability. It’s one reason why she and the family believe there’s more to the story about what happened last Thursday night on Oct. 14.

That night, police said in a news release that they were dispatched to Pere Marquette around 10:45 p.m. due to a call about a “swimmer struggling in the rip current.” Hours later on Friday morning, first responders recovered her body.

“Taleah knew about the tide,” said Breyana. “I just don’t think it’s right. I just don’t think she would go that far out in the water by herself knowing about the tide that late at night.”

The family added that another reason her death may be considered suspicious is because of the GoFundMe account they found the night she disappeared.

“They started a GoFundMe for my sister without any of the family’s consent, not even two hours after Taleah was found,” Breyana said. 

The family said they’ve spoken with the organizers of the account. FOX 17 reached out to them on Friday and have yet to hear back.

The family said they've also been talking to law enforcement in Muskegon, letting them know of all the updates they've been getting.

“So, [Capt. Shawn Bride] was saying that the report was still open. The case is not closed,” McCurty said. “He don’t have the preliminary autopsy yet. He says that once he gets the preliminary autopsy he could see, you know, what happened.”

FOX 17 reached out to City of Muskegon Department of Public Safety Tuesday morning and they said via email:

"There is no information that suggests this was anything but a tragic drowning event caused by unsafe swimming conditions in Lake Michigan."

Grand Valley State University, where Taleah just started school, released an additional statement via email Tuesday afternoon, which stated:

“The Grand Valley State community is mourning the loss of Taleah Lowe. While the Muskegon Police Department continues the investigation, our campus resources are being used to support those in our community who are experiencing trauma and intense grief. Student Affairs staff has been meeting with students and Taleah’s family and offering support.

“We appreciate that there are often many questions with an incident of this nature, and we ask you limit speculation and share any pertinent information directly with authorities from the Muskegon Police Department.

“In the meantime, those who need support may contact University Counseling. The Dean of Students Office also has additional services available. Faculty and staff who need support, may contact Encompass. More information can be found at Benefits and Wellness.”

In regard to the first GoFundMe that was created, that has since been removed. The family said the people who contributed to that one have not gotten their money back.

However, the family created their own GoFundMe account. They said that the money raised will go to funeral expenses and hiring their own private investigator.

“She did not deserve to be... whatever happened to her out there. She did not deserve that,” Lane said. “She didn’t deserve it. She was a good girl.”

***To donate to the GoFundMe the family created, click here.***

RELATED: Nonprofit stresses water safety education after tragedy at Pere Marquette

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