A 16-year-old boy died after he was pulled from a pond at Hopeville State Park in Griswold Thursday afternoon.
Brandon Jozile, who was part of a Norwich church group, was found in the 14 feet of water by state police troopers and members of the Griswold Volunteer Fire Department.
They quickly grabbed Jozile out of the water and he was taken to Backus Hospital in Plainfield. Hospital officials confirmed that Jozile later died from his injuries.
Eyewitnesses told Eyewitness News the church group knew something was wrong when they did a head count and one was missing.
Many, who apparently knew Jozile, comforted one another at the park.
"They were just praying in a circle at first, praying for help," said witness Melissa Castro.
The state park, like many others Thursday, was packed with families and groups enjoying the holiday and the water.
There are no lifeguards at Hopeville Pond, so swimming is at your own risk.
"I took my kids out, I took them out," Castro said. "They took everybody out of the water."
The Norwich Free Academy, where Jozile attended school, released a statement on the apparent drowning.
"The entire Norwich Free Academy community mourns the unfortunate death of Brandon Jozile, NFA '15," the school said in a statement. "Brandon was a vibrant member of the Academy family, a well-liked and highly respected student."
Jozile was a member of the football team, Project Outreach, and the Haitian student club at Norwich Free Academy.
"Words are inadequate to express our grief at his passing; we are all diminished by his loss," the school said in a statement. "Brandon's parents, family, friends, and classmates can count on NFA's full measure of support."
Counseling will be available to Norwich Free Academy students and parents on Monday from 8:30 a.m. to noon.
Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection and state police are investigating the apparent drowning.
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