Young woman smiling on the beach


‘What really happened to my little cousin?’: Family seeks answers after Black teen drowns in lake while swimming with friends

The police say there was no foul play, but the family isn't so sure.


Rachel Kiley


Posted on Oct 19, 2021   Updated on Oct 21, 2021, 9:30 am CDT

After a Black teen drowned in Lake Michigan last week, her family wants answers, and they aren’t satisfied with the story that’s currently being told.

Taleah Lowe was an 18-year-old freshman at Grand Valley State University. She went to the beach at Pere Marquette Park with two of her classmates, Rachel Paulsen and Chloe Ward, on the night of Oct. 14. At 10:48pm, a 911 call reported someone struggling against the current in the water, and by 1:45am, Lowe’s body had been recovered.

The Muskegon Police Department recorded the incident as an accidental drowning, and the police report “states there is nothing to indicate foul play,” per the campus police.

But Lowe’s family believes there’s more to the story that hasn’t yet been uncovered.

“[Their] stories do not add up,” Lowe’s cousin, Isaiah Lane, posted on Facebook. “How did all of you guys end up in a ‘rip current’ and she is the only girl who died…black at that…and Taleah was never the type to get in no Lake Michigan at 11pm at night!”

Lane also claimed that Paulsen and Ward were trying to get the passcode to Lowe’s phone, which he says her family still has not recovered, and “[packed] up her clothes BEFORE THEY EVEN FOUND HER BODY.”

Paulsen appears to have created a GoFundMe in Lowe’s memory, which has since been deleted. However, an archived version of the webpage shows that it raised at least $2,500 prior to being taken down—and Lowe’s family members say they have no idea where that money went.

“On the night of October 14, 2021, me and my friends witnessed the passing of Taleah, a beautiful and young soul, due to a drowning incident from a current we had all experienced,” the GoFundMe stated. “Anything helps to help make this memorial set for her. Her life was ended too short & we want to give her the send off she deserves.”

The hashtag #JusticeForTealeah is being used by those on Twitter looking to draw attention to the teen’s death and includes a screenshot from a Facebook comment allegedly left by Paulsen’s mother on Lane’s post.

Lane has since set up his own GoFundMe, trying to raise money for a private investigator into Lowe’s death.

“The girls has repeatedly changed [their] story about what happened. Taleah was never the type to get in water she was never the type especially in 40 degree water…she couldn’t even swim,” he wrote, adding that they are only looking for justice and answers.

In a Facebook message to the Daily Dot, Lane reiterated the family’s concerns. “Where did the money from the GoFundMe go? Why did [Paulsen and Ward] pack her bags the same night she died?” Lane wrote. “What really happened to my little cousin?”

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*First Published: Oct 19, 2021, 1:26 pm CDT