Swimming hole tragedy

Teen boy dead following incident near Shea Heights

Published on July 15, 2014
A 14-year-old boy was pronounced dead at a St. John’s hospital after emergency personnel responded to a call to a swimming hole off Blackhead Road near Shea Heights Monday. — Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram

A place usually associated with nothing but good summer fun was the scene of a tragedy Monday afternoon following the unexpected death of a 14-year-old boy.

Emotions were running high on a stretch of Blackhead Road near Shea Heights, with dozens of people waiting for emergency personnel to return from the pond.

A swimming hole known locally as the Punch Bowl is approximately a 10-minute walk from the road leading to Cape Spear.

Police, firefighters and paramedics were called to respond to the area at 2 p.m. to help a person in the pond.

More than an hour after firefighters and police were first called to the area, personnel emerged from the pathway with the boy on a rescue backboard. Royal Newfoundland Constabulary spokeswoman Const. Talia Murphy said the boy was transported to hospital.

It was there he was pronounced dead.

People waiting beside the road appeared to be grieving even before he was moved to the ambulance as they cried and consoled one another. A man making his way back towards the road as a Telegram reporter walked by him said, “It’s not a good scene.”

Emergency first aid commenced as soon as the boy was brought back to the shore, according to Shift Supt. Derek Chafe of the St. John’s Regional Fire Department. He said police officers played an instrumental role in getting him out of the water.

Emergency personnel were witnessed wheeling a rescue backboard along on a path leading to the edge of the pond where RNC officers were already stationed. Media were asked to head back to the road before emergency personnel began to transport the youth to an ambulance.

RNC officers were conducting interviews on Blackhead Road before and after the ambulance left the area. Murphy confirmed there were many people at the swimming hole when the incident occurred. Police were still in the process of determining what happened and would not confirm late Monday afternoon if the boy had in fact drowned.

“That’s all information that will be obtained through the course of the ongoing investigation,” said Murphy.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will be called upon to help police establish the cause of death.

In the meantime, the police requested in a news release for anyone with information regarding the incident to call 729-8000 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800- 222-TIPS (8477) or visit  NL Crime Stoppers Website at www.nlcrimestoppers.com.