Nelson Cole was the kind of young man who always had a bounce in his step and a smile on his face. Home for the summer, he was looking forward to returning for senior year at Rochester Institute of Technology, where he was studying biochemistry.
But Cole, 21, died early Sunday in an apparent drowning in the backyard pool of a friend's home in Plainview, where a group of RIT students had gathered to celebrate a 22nd birthday.
Emergency medical workers found Cole, of Brooklyn, unconscious outside the pool as friends frantically tried to resuscitate him after calling 911 at 4:16 a.m., said Det. Sgt. Daniel Ayrovainen. Cole did not regain consciousness and was pronounced dead at 5:09 a.m. at Plainview Hospital, police said. Ayrovainen said the cause appears to be drowning, but an official ruling will come after an autopsy.
The party was for the 22nd birthday of Jeffrey Soto, a fellow RIT student, and was at Soto's parents' home, police said. Police said nine young people had gathered at the Sylvia Road address. Everyone at the party, including Cole, was drinking alcohol, police said, but there was no evidence of illegal drugs.
Jeffrey Soto was charged with violating Nassau's social host law for providing alcohol to a 20-year-old guest, police said. He received a ticket to appear in First District Court in Hempstead on Aug. 9.
Ayrovainen said Soto's parents knew about the party but were not charged because they believed everyone was at least 21, the legal drinking age.
The Sotos referred all questions to Mineola attorney Mark Alter, who said: "The family is obviously devastated by this tragedy."
Cole's mother, Debra Bramlett, of Boerum Hill, said her son was a "smart kid" who had just finished his third year at RIT.
"He was a really good kid, never got into any trouble," Bramlett said by cell phone as she picked up her son's belongings at the 8th Precinct in Levittown.
Two friends found Cole at the bottom of the pool at its deepest end, which was 8 feet, Ayrovainen said. "They jumped in and got him out," Ayrovainen said. "They started doing CPR."
Cole's mother said he knew how to swim.
Bramlett, 54, recalled Sunday her son's affable nature and his love for Scrabble. "He was a very sweet child," she said. "People always complimented me on how well behaved he was."
He had become an organ donor, simply as an "act of kindness," his mother said last night.
"I am really saddened," she said. "My heart feels very distant." With Jennifer Barrios,
Matthew Coleman and Pervaiz Shallwani