Grief counselors were made available for students in the Camp Rotary program at the Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School in New London after a student drowned last week.
Police said Anthony Bernoudy, 6, of New London, was at the Green Harbor Beach with his family to celebrate Independence Day when the tragedy occurred. Family members said they began to pack up for the day at about 5:30 p.m. and noticed Bernoudy was nowhere to be found.
A Silver Alert was issued by Connecticut State Police about a half hour later and a massive search for the little boy was launched.
His body was found 25 feet from shore at about 11:30 p.m. and he was pronounced dead at Lawrence and Memorial Hospital.
The New London community is still filled with heavy hearts over the drowning death of Bernoudy, who would have turned 7 Wednesday.
"My nephew played with him on a regular basis and he's very traumatized by it," said Robert Key Senior.
New London Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio said he is heartbroken and knew the family.
Finizio said he is reviewing the city's response and analyzing everything, department by department, to see what's prudent and possible for preventing this in the future.
"It's the right thing to do a full debriefing from top to bottom and if improvements necessary it should be ASAP," Finizio said.
Many people have questioned why lifeguards got off at 5 p.m. on the day of the apparent drowning. Finizio said "procedures are the same they've been for decades" and there have been no previous incidents.
"When life guards go off duty, they announce and reannounce," Finizio said. "It's commonly known and posted."
New London city officials said as part of Camp Rotary, middle school students participate in the New London Community Boating program at Green Harbor Beach, but since the tragedy it has been suspended until further notice.
When the program resumes, officials said it is possible that participants can be accompanied by a counselor or social worker as grief issues may arise when they return to the water.
New London Public Schools will continue to assess the need for grief counseling on a school-by-school basis as summer programs are currently in session.
Social workers and a school psychologist have already helped more than two dozen in need.
"We all need to talk. The principal needs to talk. Teachers need support," said Cherese Chery, who is the New London Public Schools human relations person. "People need a place where they can come to feel safe and supported and our staff does a good job helping them out."
The police investigation still isn't over. They already gathered interviews and can't comment. But police told Eyewitness News if there are charges, they would come from the New London state's attorney.
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