Mattapan teenager among weekend’s drowning victims

Girl, 5, missing in Conn. River

Under Saturday’s scorching sun, swimmers came to seek relief in the soothing waters of Country Pond, a popular retreat that runs along Kingston and Newton in southern New Hampshire.

But shortly before 11 that morning, one of them went under and did not resurface. Panicked lifeguards and swimmers nearby plunged into the pond and found the young man, pulling him to shore; he was limp and unresponsive. They performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation in a desperate attempt to save him.

In the end, Sheldon Jean-Laurent, 18, from Mattapan, did not make it. He died at 11:40 p.m Saturday, New Hampshire authorities said.


Very little else is known about the teenager or the last moments of his life. A press release from the New Hampshire State Police marine patrol Sunday offered few clues.

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“A male swimmer became distressed and went under the water,’’ the statement said.

A Newton deputy fire chief said the teenager, who was visiting friends in Newton, had been under water for about 15 minutes and was found near a raft in the roped-off area staffed by a lifeguard, according to the Union Leader newspaper.

The paper reported that when firefighters arrived, they took over CPR and performed other life-saving measures. The teen was taken by helicopter to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, where he died, the Union Leader reported.

The teen’s death came during a steamy long weekend when there were several drownings and other incidents as residents sought refuge from the heat along the region’s shores.


In South Hadley, the search for a 5-year-old girl who fell into the Connecticut River on Saturday evening is now a recovery effort, according to Captain Jim Pula of the South Hadley Fire Department.

The girl was with her parents at a home on Cove Island Road when she fell off the end of a dock, he said.

“How she fell we do not really know,’’ said Pula. “We do know that her family was there. As soon she went in, she was gone with the current.”

Rescue teams responded to the scene around 9:25 p.m. Saturday, and immediately began searching for the girl. South Hadley police and a State Police dive team returned again around 10 a.m. Sunday and spent the day looking for the girl, whose name and hometown have not been released to the media.

“At this point the search is now a recovery,’’ said Pula.


The recovery teams will continue looking for the girl on Monday, authorities said.

Also Sunday, a New Hampshire Fish and Game dive team recovered the body of 20-year-old Daron Grahm, of Penacook, N.H., around 9:15 a.m. from the Merrimack River in Boscawen.

Police said several men in their early 20s were swimming near the Route 4 bridge around 4:30 p.m. Saturday, when one of them went under the Merrimack’s surface. Several swimmers tried to rescue him, but the fast-moving river thwarted their efforts, police said.

Grahm’s drowning came after authorities recovered the body of Gary Lacroix, 59, of Concord, N.H., after he had fallen into the Merrimack Friday.

Authorities said Lacroix was in the Concord area of the river and had been fishing when he lost his balance. A witness called 911 just after 2 p.m. to report a man struggling in the Merrimack near the Sewalls Falls Recreation Area in Concord, authorities said.

“He went to get a piece of trash and was swept under,’’ said Sergeant Joseph Wright of the Concord Police Department.

A dive team located the body sometime before 6 p.m. Friday, authorities said.

Concerned about the recent drownings, New Hampshire authorities issued an advisory urging the public to exercise extreme caution on the state’s rivers and streams, which are running at high levels with dangerous speeds and unexpectedly treacherous currents hidden below a seemingly calm surface.

As an alternative, authorities from state marine patrol urged residents to use lakes and ponds with designated swimming areas and lifeguards on duty. The public is also urged to use life jackets when operating canoes or kayaks even on waterways that appear calm.

“Even strong swimmers can be easily overcome by the current and swept away into treacherous waters,’’ the marine patrol said in a statement.

In addition to the fatal accidents, there also were a few close calls on waterways around the region.

Concord, N.H., police responded to an incident Thursday in which a 46-year-old man and his 8-year-old daughter were tubing on the Merrimack River when she fell into the water. The girl was able to float to safety, police said.

On Friday, in Tyngsborough, Mass., Alan Bell, 66, of Tyngsborough was hospitalized at Lowell General Hospital after a near-drowning in the Merrimack River, police said in a statement.

His wife called police at 11:58 a.m. to say that her husband fell into the river near Frost Road Park. Two police officers found Bell floating face-down in the water, 35 feet from a boat ramp.

Meghan Irons can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @meghanirons.