Whether it was our eagerness to finally break loose from the mask mandates and general pandemic restrictions we all lived through in 2020, or just the beastly hot weather, last weekend was a tragic one on the waters of New England.
On Friday, Worcester police Officer Enmanuel Familia died trying to save 14-year-old Troy Love, who also drowned in a pond in a Worcester park. On Saturday, a man drowned at White Island Pond in Plymouth and a 17-year-old was pulled, unconscious, from a backyard pool during a graduation party in Dedham. At last report he was in critical condition.
Sunday brought more bad news.
That afternoon, 19-year-old Elissandro Silva of Brockton drowned after he went into the water off Mound Street Beach in Quincy to retrieve a soccer ball. Civilians diving in the area pulled Silva out of the water but he was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
Also on Sunday, a 16-year-old boy from out of state who was visiting an uncle in Lynn was pulled from the waters of Lake Gardner in Amesbury and flown by MedFlight to a Boston hospital. In spite of efforts to resuscitate him, the teenager died.
These tragedies remind us how fragile life is and how important it is to look out for one another. At the beach or lake, that might mean keeping an eye on children other than your own, being on the lookout for anyone who might be struggling in deeper water. We should be aware of the strength of the tides and dangerous undertows.
In the sport of scuba diving, the “buddy system” is an essential element of training. Regularly pairing up with another diver encourages both to agree on a dive plan and time table, to keep track of the other underwater and to watch for signs of distress. Divers are even trained to know how to share a spare “octopus” breathing device from their own air tank, if their fellow diver’s tank runs out or becomes inoperable.
A buddy system for beginning swimmers or children venturing into new waters for the first time encourages youngsters to be mindful of others in the water as well.
The reasons behind the tragic spate of drownings the last few days might be impossible to determine. We only hope that out of these tragedies people recognize the need to keep an eye out for others when you’re on or near the water.