A 15-year-old student has died on a school trip in Algonquin Provincial Park, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has confirmed.
Jeremiah Perry was reported missing Tuesday night while on an outdoor educational field trip with six staff members and 32 other students from C.W. Jefferys Collegiate Institute and Westview Centennial Secondary School in Toronto.
Ontario Provincial Police said the Toronto teen was swimming in Big Trout Lake, a remote area of the park, when he went under the water but did not resurface.
TDSB spokesperson Shari Schwartz-Maltz said the Ontario Provincial Police informed school officials Perry’s body was recovered Wednesday afternoon.
“As many times as talked about it today, it was as many times as we hoped it wasn’t true,” Schwartz-Maltz said.
“I’m seeing tears, I’m seeing uncertainty, I’m seeing a need to be together.”
“We’ll do what we can to support the family and the kids.”
The students arrived at the provincial park on Sunday and were scheduled to return on Friday.
Officials said the trip was ended ahead of schedule after the C.W. Jefferys student’s disappearance, and the remaining students were taken out of the campground.
The students then boarded a plane and flew to a meeting point where buses transported them back to Toronto Wednesday evening.
John Malloy, the TDSB’s director of education, said in a statement Wednesday evening that the school board’s “thoughts are with Jeremiah’s family and friends during this tremendously difficult time.”
“We are continuing to offer all the supports that we can to the family, as well as students and staff,” he said. “These supports will remain in place for as long as they’re needed.”
Malloy said the program has been operating “for a number of years with an excellent safety record,” but staff would not be able to determine what happened until after police had completed their investigation.
“We know all staff involved are committed to reviewing each and every aspect of this tragedy to assure ourselves and our communities of our safety procedures,” he added.
A grandmother whose grandson was on the same trip told Global News she was called by officials at around 2 a.m. Wednesday.
She said her grandson had also gone on the trip last year and both times was required to pass a swim test.
Schwartz-Maltz confirmed a similar test was mandatory for the trip but would not comment on the specific requirements.
With files from Cindy Pom and Adam Miller