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Boy pulled from neighbor’s pool in tragic Malden drowning death

A relative held a photo of 5-year-old Jeremiah Joseph, the boy who drowned Thursday in a Malden swimming pool.
A relative held a photo of 5-year-old Jeremiah Joseph, the boy who drowned Thursday in a Malden swimming pool.Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe

MALDEN — A 5-year-old boy died after he was pulled from the bottom of a backyard pool here Thursday, despite frantic efforts by relatives and first responders to save him.

Jeremiah Joseph had stopped by a relative’s home on Princeton Road with his mother just before noontime. He went outside to play and ended up at the bottom of an in-ground swimming pool next door, a relative said.

Dieutson Francois, a cousin of the boy’s mother, said they at first thought Joseph was missing. But when he went outside to look for him, he soon spotted Joseph at the bottom of the pool. He jumped in to rescue him, he said.

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“I’m really, really, really hoping it’s not real right now,” Francois, 26, said while standing at his front door Thursday afternoon.

Malden police were alerted at 11:53 a.m. to a boy missing from a home at 64 Princeton Road.

“First responders attempted lifesaving efforts and the child was transported to MelroseWakefield Hospital where he was pronounced dead at approximately 1 p.m.,” the Middlesex district attorney’s office said in a statement.

No foul play is suspected, the statement said.

The incident remains under investigation by Malden police and State Police.

Officials did not release the boy’s name, because they do not identify people whose deaths are not considered suspicious, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office said.

Relatives identified the boy as Jeremiah Joseph.

“I’m really, really, really hoping it’s not real right now,” said Dieutson Francois, cousin of the boy’s mother.
“I’m really, really, really hoping it’s not real right now,” said Dieutson Francois, cousin of the boy’s mother.Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe

Francois said the mother and boy used to live in the small house with yellow siding tucked into a hilly residential neighborhood. The mother now lives on Salem Street in Malden, he said. She had stopped by to pick up some of her mail at her old address, he said.

He said relatives were chatting when the boy went around to the back of the house to play. The mother went to the backyard area to check on him and didn’t see him.

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At one point, relatives started combing the neighborhood, with people getting in cars and heading in different directions. Police were called.

Francois searched the back of the house and was about to look around a mulched area located to the side of house when he noticed at least one of the child’s shoes near an in-ground pool in back of a next-door neighbor’s house.

The child’s jacket was on the ground nearby. Francois said he saw the boy at the bottom of the pool. He yelled to a police officer who had responded to the scene and was searching a shed, then hopped the fence between the properties and dove into the pool, pulling the boy off the bottom and handing him to the officer, who had moved to the pool’s edge.

It was unclear to Francois how the child got over to the neighbor’s property. The fence separating the properties is about 4-feet high and there were no gaps or holes visible in it on Thursday.

“I don’t know how he gets there,” Francois said.

Francois said the water in the pool was deep and cold. He stands 6 feet 5 inches tall, and he said it was over his head at its deepest point.

He described Jeremiah as a happy and energetic child who enjoyed watching cartoons.

“It’s really, really sad,” he said.

Prosper Previlon, the uncle of Jeremiah’s mother, recalled the boy’s laugh and smile and shared videos of Jeremiah singing at preschool. Jeremiah, he said, was a “sweet little boy” who was always making people laugh.

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“I’m going to miss him a lot,” he said.

Witnessing the suffering of Jeremiah’s mother, who is pregnant, was painful, he said.

“You just wish you could have been here,” he said.

Previlon said Jeremiah was not breathing when he was taken from the pool.

“Hopefully no parents have to deal with such a [tragedy],” he said.


Globe correspondents Adam Sennott and Sabrina Schnur contributed to this report. Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com