A New London waterfront park will reopen Saturday after the apparent drowning death of a 6-year-old boy Thursday night.
The community is mourning after Anthony Bernoudy was pulled from the waters at Green Harbor Beach after a five-hour-long search.
A vigil was held Friday night to remember Bernoudy who would have turned seven next Wednesday.
His uncle Glenn Bernoudy said "on the 4th of July we lost a beautfiful soul. Anthony was full of life."
Police said Bernoudy had spent the day with his family at the beach to celebrate Independence Day. They said they had started to pack up for the day around 5:30 p.m., and that's when they noticed he was nowhere to be seen.
A Silver Alert was issued by state police around 6 p.m. and a search was conducted.
Bernoudy was pulled from the water around 11:30 p.m., found submerged 25 feet from shore. He was pronounced dead at Lawrence and Memorial Hospital.
The park was closed to the public on Friday as police and firefighters searched the water for possible submerged objects.
"We found out there were no obstacles or objects in the water that would cause a problem of that nature," said New London Recreation Director Tommy Major.
Three lifeguards were on duty just to maintain security and keep visitors from entering the water.
All activities are expected to resume at the park as scheduled on Saturday. Lifeguards will be on duty Saturday.
"All residents are advised to always exercise safety when undertaking activities in the water as safety is not always guaranteed," the city of New London said in a statement.
Four lifeguards were on duty until 5 p.m. at Green Harbor Beach. Some classmates of Bernoudy did not think he knew how to swim.
Major said the city has free swimming programs all year long for children.
However, the closure of the park did not stop visitors from leaving teddy bears or flowers in honor of Bernoudy, who was just days away from celebrating his seventh birthday.
"That's what I was just teaching them," said Alexis Mootry, who brought her sons to the park. "Out here, it takes just a half a second, you know. You can turn your back for a second and the little boy is gone."
New London Mayor Darryl Finizio released a statement on his Facebook page.
"My heartfelt condolences to the family. Know that our entire City mourns with you," Finizio wrote. "I ask all New Londoners to join me in praying with them, and for this young boy who was tragically taken from us."
Grief counseling was held at Jennings Elementary School, where Bernoudy attended, Friday afternoon to help students cope with the sudden, tragic loss.
School officials in New London released a statement Friday morning mourning the loss of Bernoudy.
"The New London Public Schools community suffered a tragic loss in the sudden death of 6-year-old Anthony Bernoudy, a first-grade Jennings Elementary School student on Thursday," the statement said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Anthony's family and friends at this time."
More counseling will be available on Monday at Camp Rotary at Bennie Dover Middle School.
The New London Community Boating Program at Green Harbor Beach is suspended until further notice.
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