Friends, family and community members have come together to remember a Toronto teen as officials continue investigating the circumstances of his death during a school trip up north, earlier this month.
Jeremiah Perry, a 15-year-old student at C.W. Jefferys Collegiate Institute, died of an apparent drowning while on a week-long school excursion. Ontario Provincial Police said the Toronto teen was swimming in Big Trout Lake on July 4, a remote area of Algonquin Park, when he went under the water but did not resurface. Officers found his body the following day.
Jocelyn Anderson, Perry’s aunt, said she was pleased to see students, teachers and well-wishers turn out for the vigil, Friday evening. She said the family is struggling to comprehend his death.
“We are together because it’s a terrible time. It’s a tragedy. We’re filled with grief at this point in time,” Anderson said.
“Life is short. [Perry’s] life was definitely too short.”
She said Perry’s brother was on the trip as well, and it has been very difficult for him. Anderson said the brothers were “the only two of a kind.”
“He has lost his pea in a pod, so to speak,” she said.
Anderson said it took a while for her nephew “to come out of his shell,” but she said he became” the life of the household.”
“He was just a regular kid. If you like children and you like being around life and laughter and fun, yes you missed out on that,” Anderson said.
Meanwhile, TDSB director John Malloy said in a written statement Thursday that the OPP and coroner’s office are conducting a formal investigation. He said the TDSB is in the process of speaking with staff, students and volunteers who were involved with the trip.
Malloy said staff are reviewing pre-trip swim tests and trip policies, including documentation and approval requirements.
“Given our expectations that students pass a pre-departure swim test, we are also interviewing those who conducted swim tests and are reviewing all related swim test documentation,” Malloy wrote.
“I have instructed staff to immediately review our practices and procedures with regards to excursions – particularly those that involve “high-care” activities such as swimming and canoeing.”
A visitation for Perry has been scheduled for Saturday, and his funeral will be held on Monday.
With files from David Shum