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Water-related accidents kill 2, injure baby

LAMAR THOMPSON

LAMAR THOMPSON

A baby was pulled from a pond near his home in Littleton Sunday about an hour after authorities recovered the body of a drowning victim in Phillipston. Later Sunday, a teenager drowned in Quincy after diving off a pier.

“Unfortunately, it’s become a tragic rite of summer,” State Police spokesman David Procopio said of the three water-related accidents within 24 hours.

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In the first accident, a group of friends was boating early Sunday on Queen Lake in Phillipston when one of the men fell off the pontoon boat. State Police responded and began searching the water about 1:30 a.m., said State Police Lieutenant Dan Richard. Teams located and recovered the body about five hours later.

The victim was identified as Roger LaDue, 18, of Templeton. He was the son of Roger and Debra LaDue, according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. The couple’s only other child, Linda, drowned in a pool in 1995, when she was 3 years old.

There were life jackets on board the pontoon boat, Procopio said, but they did not appear to have been used.

“Even if you’re an accomplished swimmer . . . if you’re on a boat you need to wear a life jacket,” Procopio said.

About the same time Sunday morning, a 10-month-old boy was pulled from a small koi pond adjacent to his family’s home in Littleton.

He was taken to Emerson Hospital in Concord, where he was in critical condition Sunday night.

The pond, about 6 feet in diameter and only a few feet deep, is less than 10 feet from the Harvard Road home. Just beyond the pond is a blue and yellow plastic children’s playhouse.

The pond has small rocks surrounding the perimeter but no fence, said a neighbor, who did not want to be identified by name.

The matter is still under investigation, but authorities believe it was probably an accident, said Stephanie Chelf Guyotte, a spokeswoman for the Middlesex district attorney’s office.

A few hours later, Lamar Thompson, 18, of Quincy jumped off the public pier near the Quincy Yacht Club and slipped out of sight while swimming back to shore.

Rich Baldassini, 50, a member of the club, heard a girl call for help and said that eight to 10 people jumped into the water to try to help Thompson. But the lack of visibility, Baldassini said, made the effort impossible.

“It’s dark. It’s muddy,” he said. “You’re just reaching around hoping to catch an arm or a leg.”

Thompson was found in 10 to 12 feet of water about 1:45 p.m. and was taken to Quincy Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, said Greg Goyette of the Quincy Police Scuba Unit.

Nearly 200 of Thompson’s friends gathered at the pier on Sunday night for a candlelight vigil. They described him as an ebullient soccer player with a goofy sense of humor who lit up any room he walked into.

“He was always in a good mood, joking around. It’s going to be different without him,” said James Struga, 16, who played soccer with Thompson at Quincy High School.

As the vigil wound down, its organizer, Alex Babrak, 17, stood on a dock where a small group listened to a recording of Thompson’s favorite song.

“He was just an awesome, outgoing, funny character of a person,” Babrak said,

Procopio attributed the accidents to the weekend heat wave.

“It’s no coincidence that we have 90-degree temperatures and more drownings,” he said. “There’s a lot more people on the water that aren’t usually there.”

When people are swimming, flotation devices should be readily accessible so they can be thrown to swimmers in trouble, he said.

The risk of drowning is especially high for children, he added, and proper protective measures include constant supervision and using safeguards such as fences.

“Adults need to make sure children cannot exit the dwelling and get into a body of water,” Procopio said.

“There has to be close adult supervision as well.

“Even 20 seconds is enough for children to get into trouble.”

Globe correspondents Evan Allen and Colin A. Young contributed to this report. Matt Woolbright can be reached at matt.woolbright@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @reportermatt
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