fb-pixel Skip to main content

Following boy’s death, center’s director on leave

Police Commissioner William B. Evans spoke at a news conference about the search for Kyzr Willis Tuesday. Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

The director of the Curley Community Center in South Boston has been placed on leave after the death of a 7-year-old boy who went missing from a day program there, Mayor Martin J. Walsh said Wednesday.

The mayor spoke after meeting with the family of Kyzr Willis, whose body was found in the water off Carson Beach after an hours-long search that began with the belief that the child may have wandered off toward home.

Walsh said he was doing everything he could to make sure that “nothing like this tragedy ever happens again in the City of Boston.”

“Thousands of families entrust their kids every single day to us here in the City of Boston through our different programs,” he said. “And we take this trust very, very seriously.”


He said the director is on paid leave during the investigation into Willis’s death at the facility, where he attended a city-run drop-in program. Authorities are trying to determine what happened between 2:15 p.m. Tuesday, when Willis was reportedly last seen, and about 2:45 p.m., when police were called.

Walsh said he will also look at other city-run programs to make sure there is no risk of other children coming to harm. The Curley Center, which was closed today, is expected to reopen Thursday to adults.

Earlier Wednesday, Police Commissioner William B. Evans said the search for Willis initially focused on land before officials found him in the water. Evans said investigators believed Willis might be somewhere between his Dorchester home and the Curley Center.

“From when we got that call, we worked the best we could to try to find that child,” Evans said. “We’re just trying to find out in the last hours what happened to the child.”

Walsh, who returned early from the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, said he had never imagined a “situation where somebody who goes to a day camp doesn’t come home to their parents.”


“I just can’t imagine the sadness, the anger, what they have today, the feeling in their hearts,” Walsh said.

There are no surveillance cameras along William J. Day Boulevard near the center, Walsh said.

Walsh said he and other officials had met with employees at the Curley Center, and said they “had enough of a tragic experience themselves.”

Walsh said he expects the program to rebound, and said the Curley Center could reopen Thursday.

“We run an incredible program,” Walsh said. “We have not had any type of incidents like this ever before.”

Andy Rosen can be reached at andrew.rosen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @andyrosen.

Laura Crimaldi can be reached at laura.crimaldi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi.