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Wellesley beach was staffed as boy, 10, drowned, police say

Morses Pond is closed as the investigation of the death on Saturday continues. Alexander Glennon was in water more than an hour.Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff/Globe staff

Morses Pond was fully staffed with eight lifeguards when a 10-year-old New Hampshire boy drowned Saturday at the popular Wellesley swimming spot during an outing with his father and friends, according to police.

After Alexander Glennon, of Manchester, N.H., was reported missing, the lifeguard staff mobilized quickly, calling emergency dispatchers and launching a well-rehearsed search protocol, Chief Terrence Cunningham said.

“The lifeguards did absolutely what they were trained to do,” said Cunningham. “They started a very methodical, well organized line search right in the water.”

The boy was found by Wellesley Fire Department divers inside an area demarcated for swimming a little over an hour after he was reported missing, Cunningham said.


The Police Department released new details in an open letter to Wellesley residents because misinformation was spreading, Cunningham said.

The pond, which draws thousands of visitors each summer, will remain closed while police investigate what they consider a tragic accident, the chief said.

Though it had opened just a week earlier for Memorial Day, the beach area was fully staffed with lifeguards and had a buoy line in place to mark the swimming area. Additional areas are usually roped off later in the season, Cunningham said.

Glennon was at the crowded beach on a hot day with his father, his father’s fiancée, and some members of the fiancée’s family, according to Cunningham. The boy knew how to swim, his father told authorities.

Glennon’s father could not be reached by the Globe.

Just before 6 p.m., a lifeguard noticed a woman looking around the beach area and asked if she needed help. The woman said she was looking for a 10-year-old boy, and the lifeguard offered to activate the emergency action plan, which includes an organized search and calling 911.

The woman was not frantic, said Cunningham, and told the lifeguard that she did not think he was in the water. The woman quickly found the boy’s father and determined the boy was not with him. Another lifeguard immediately activated the emergency action plan. They called 911 and ordered 60 to 70 people out of the pond.


The lifeguards started searching in the shallow area and then used goggles and fins to look in deeper water, Cunningham said. The pond gets up to about 20 feet deep, but he said it was unclear how deep the water was where the boy was found.

Glennon was last seen at ankle-deep water, said Cunningham.

Also part of the search were State Police, Natick Fire Department, Massachusetts Environmental Police, and Wellesley College officers. Boats were in the water, the MBTA had been alerted to slow traffic on nearby tracks, air support had been called in, and Wellesley was about to call in another 30 officers from surrounding towns when Glennon was found around 7:15 p.m. by members of the Wellesley Fire Department Dive Team.

Paramedics performed CPR and continued to do so while Glennon was transported to Newton-Wellesley Hospital, where medical staff continued treatment but were unable to revive him.

At Henry Wilson Elementary School in Manchester, N.H., Glennon was recalled as “a youngster with a vivid imagination and charming personality,” said the principal, Linda Durand, in a statement.

“He especially liked drawing and had a great love for animals,” Durand said. “He was a sweet, kind, and caring youngster who significantly impacted our Wilson community.”


His grandfather, John Glennon, said he cared for his grandson every day after school.

“He’s an excellent kid and he’s going to be deeply missed,” he said.

The last drowning at Morses Pond was in 1975, according to police. As in any situation involving a death, Cunningham said, the town will review policies to make sure they were followed and then to determine if changes are needed.

“I expect there will be a reassessment of all our protocols,” said Hans Larsen, Wellesley’s executive director.

Morses Pond is under the purview of the elected Recreation Commission, which referred calls to the police chief. According to the 2011-2012 town report, 41,762 people came to Morses Pond during the summer to swim, kayak, and picnic. It is open to residents and nonresidents who pay a fee.

Peter Schworm of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Lisa Kocian can be reached at lkocian@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeLisaKocian.