Two children died after being pulled from the water Saturday night at a municipal park in Brockton, Massachusetts, after they were reported missing earlier in the evening, officials said.
Brockton Fire Capt. Steve McLean shared the devastating news at a press conference around 10:15 p.m. where he was joined by Brockton Mayor Robert Sullivan and Darren Duarte, the spokesperson for the Brockton Police Department.
At the time of the press conference, officials said they did not have an update on the boys' conditions. Almost two hours later, around midnight, the Plymouth County District Attorney released a statement saying state and local police are investigating the "tragic drowning" of two children in Brockton.
They said a third, 11-year-old, boy was rescued earlier in the evening and taken to Good Samaritan Hospital. His condition was not immediately known.
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McLean said the Brockton Fire Department responded to D.W. Field Park on Oak Street after receiving a report at 7:30 p.m. that two boys were in the water in the location of Waldo Lake. The police and fire departments both received multiple 911 calls that the kids were in the water before suddenly disappearing from view.
McLean noted that the weather was very nice on Saturday, and he observed many people in the park for recreational purposes, so there were numerous witnesses at the scene.
While on the way there, the department requested assistance from the Plymouth County Technical Rescue Team, which is made up of about 70 firefighters from the 27 cities and towns in the county. The Plymouth County TRT confirmed its dive team was requested for assistance with the rescue operation.
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When fire officials arrived on scene, Brockton police officers were already entering the water, McLean said. Witnesses on scene told officials they had last seen the kids around 5 to 10 minutes prior, and they had gone under the water.
More than an hour after they started searching, divers located the first child. McLean said he believes it was the 12-year-old. Another hour after that, approximately two hours into the search, the second boy was located in a close location to the first.
They were located at least 10-12 feet under water, McLean said, at a different point than where they went into the water. Police said life-saving measures were performed on both boys before they were taken in unknown condition to Good Samaritan Hospital in Brockton.
McLean said he believes the two are related, but it has not been confirmed yet that they are cousins.
It's not known at this time what the boys were doing when they went missing. McLean said swimming is not allowed at the park.
The rescue operation for both boys took up to two hours, and McLean said it was in fact hampered by the setting sun. Lighting was brought to the scene to assist in the search.
The mayor praised the city's police and fire departments for their "heroic efforts" searching for the victims. He also noted how sad he was by what transpired.
"As mayor, this is the really difficult part of my job. As a dad of three young kids, it's devastating. So I do want to just on behalf of the entire city, send our prayers, thoughts to the families of the victims," Sullivan said. "Just a very, very sad evening and really tragic."
McLean also mentioned how hard it was for everyone to have to respond to this kind of incident.
"For the responders, both police and fire, these are the types of calls that you never want to have to respond to," McLean said, "however I'm proud of my men and what they did today. Their efforts were nothing short of heroic. They worked extremely hard to try to turn a bad situation into a positive outcome. Unfortunately in our business, sometimes that's not always the case."
McLean reiterated that the city does not condone swimming in the area. He said the lakes have been there for quite some time, have murky conditions and can become very dangerous with varying depths.
McLean said he would advise anyone visiting the park this summer to understand the ponds are not suitable for swimming, especially if you are not a skilled swimmer.
An investigation is ongoing.