WORCESTER — Fire Department divers searched Bell Pond for two hours Friday night for a 10-year-old boy believed to be under the water.
“Right now we’re going to look at this as a recovery,” Deputy Chief Geoffrey Gardell said as firefighters suspended their search around 7:30 p.m.
The chief said there was credible information that the boy had gone into the water around 5:30 p.m. with three friends.
Deedee Estrada lives across the street and was on her front porch on Belmont Street calling her son in from the basketball courts when she saw two men calling for help, saying there were boys in the water and to call 911. She ran across the street and jumped into the water as three boys were able to get themselves to shore.
Wrapped in a towel as onlookers started to gather, Estrada said she could not find the fourth boy. “It was unbearably cold in there,” she said.
A man who was fishing with his nephew said he told the boys not to go near the water. But a few minutes later, he heard them screaming and saw them struggling in the water. The man, who declined to give his name, ran toward them on the shore, but by then police had arrived and told him not to go in the water.
Police initially had trouble identifying the missing boy. After about an hour two women and a man came to the beach and were escorted to the three boys, all sitting under blankets on the beach. Officers hiked around the entire pond with their eyes on the water.
Eventually a distraught man was escorted by police to the beach, as several divers rotated in and out of the water.
The man paced back and forth and at one point picked up a sneaker piled with the boys’ belongings. Police calmed the man as crime scene officers roped off the area and closed off most of the park beyond the parking lot.
Gardell said the dive team typically gets calls at the beginning of the swimming season, but not this early.
The chief said the divers were searching in water up to 18 feet deep. Even this early in the spring, the spring-fed pond was already thick with weeds, he said.
Gardell said divers will resume the search Saturday morning.