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Teen on Algonquin school trip said he could feel drowning student tugging at his legs

NEWS STAFF, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jul 7th, 2017

A teen who was on an ill-fated high school trip to Algonquin Park says he could feel someone tugging at his feet while swimming in Big Trout Lake where 15-year-old C.W. Jefferys CI student, Jeremiah Perry, drowned on Tuesday.

“I was swimming and something pulled me down,” recalled Boran Balci.

“Something pulled my left leg by the foot. I was trying to get oxygen because it was pulling me down. I was looking around and there’s no Jeremiah, ‘Where is Jeremiah?’ And after they couldn’t find him.”

Perry’s body was recovered from the lake on Wednesday.

More than a dozen Toronto students were on the trip and are still making their way back home after Perry’s tragic death.

Ontario Provincial Police say search and rescue divers pulled his body out of the lake just before 3:30 p.m. Wednesday after scouring the waters all day.

A spokeswoman for the Toronto District School Board, Shari Schwartz-Maltz, says the students were in a remote area of the park that is only accessible by a day-long canoe trip.

She says most of the students were evacuated by boat plane but 13 students were left behind and had to canoe back to a meeting point when it became too dark to shuttle people by air.

Schwartz-Maltz says the last group of students is expected to return to Toronto on Thursday night.

C.W. Jefferys principal, Monday Gala, spoke to reporters on Thursday.

“Our hearts are with the family,” he said. “It is a difficult moment for everybody … it’s like losing your own child, that is how I feel at this moment.”

Gala said he couldn’t comment when asked about reports that some students on the trip couldn’t swim, saying it was part of an active investigation.


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