Drownings in Flatrock occur too often: resident
Grief counsellor in town Wednesday night helped people deal with tragic loss of 16-year-old boy
For many in Flatrock, hearing sirens and seeing emergency responders rushing to the town’s popular swimming holes brings on a sickening feeling of dread.
Tragedy, as it did on Tuesday when a 16-year-old boy drowned there, has struck the town too many times.
“I knew when I heard the sirens that somebody was gone,” Dave McGrath, who lives next to Big River that leads to the swimming holes, said on Wednesday.
“When I hear the sirens I know where they are going. I hate it.”
The RNC confirmed late Tuesday that the boy had drowned at the popular swimming hole area. The incident occurred about 3:30 p.m. when the boy and his friends had gone for a swim to cool off on what was a muggy summer day.
The details of what happened to the boy have not been released, yet it is known the river had been running higher and stronger after a recent heavy rainfall.
McGrath and his wife, town counsellor Marion McGrath, have been living near the river for about 40 years. He said he’s aware of about six serious incidents at the swimming holes — including drownings and near drownings — over the years.
“A lot of teenagers, and some older crowd go there, and some come down in the night time to do a little partying,” McGrath said. “But it’s a spot where too many lives have been lost.”
Flatrock Mayor Darrin Thorne said a grief counsellor was in the town Wednesday evening to speak with relatives and friends of the boy to help them understand and deal with what happened. He said firefighters and other first responders were also to meet with the counsellor as it was a tragic scene for them, as well.
“It was a pretty tragic place to be (Tuesday). I can’t imagine what it’s like for the family and friends of this young man,” Thorne said.
Members of the Torbay Volunteer Fire Department, and rescue crews from St. John’s Regional Fire Department including its cold water rescue team, responded Tuesday afternoon.
SaltWire Network photographer Joe Gibbons described a “heart wrenching” emotional scene when he was there as onlookers described to him how first responders were trying to resuscitate the boy while distraught family members arrived.
The boy was transported to the Health Sciences Centre in St. John’s where he was later pronounced dead.
Thorne said the town is making an effort to raise awareness about the area. In addition to planned warning signs, he said they are trying to get the message out that the pools can be very dangerous in the days after heavy rainfalls.
A popular swimming area in Flatrock is a naturally carved-out set of pools in the rock walls of Big River that runs through Flatrock to the nearby ocean. This is the area where a 16-year-old boy tragically drowned on Tuesday afternoon.