KENNETT SQUARE >> A 17-year-old man drowned Thursday evening in a pond at Anson B. Nixon Park.
Officials were not able to identify the dead teen late Thursday, but workers could be seen retrieving the body from the water. Efforts were made to revive the man after he was pulled from the pond. Steve Melton, chief of Kennett Fire Company No. 1, said the victim was taken to Jennersville Hospital.
According to witnesses, a soccer ball was thrown into the pond about 8 p.m. and the 17-year-old went in to retrieve it. Witnesses who said they knew the victim said he was just learning to swim.
Bill Claycomb, who goes to the park often, called 911 after he heard two girls screaming.
“They told me a kid was drowning,” Claycomb said. “I called 911 and directed them over here. If I knew right where he was, I would have tried to get him. There was no way to know exactly where he was.”
Kennett Township Police Chief Albert McCarthy said the youth was there with his sister and her husband, who were walking around the pond.
A woman who declined to be identified said she saw the teen go under.
“I heard screaming and I saw him struggling,” she said. “He was trying to swim, but he couldn’t swim.”
Claycomb said he was told by emergency officials to wait at the entrance to the park so he could direct them to the scene.
“When they set the ropes up they should have gone a little to the right, that’s where he was, but it was too late by then,” Claycomb said. “By the time (emergency responders) got here, it was already too late.”
Claycomb agreed the victim entered the water to retrieve a ball.
“Somebody threw a ball in and he went to get the ball,” Claycomb said. “He started to swim to get the ball, and he said ‘I’m tired,’ and he went under. I think he got stuck in that silt. I know it’s thick. I have lived here all my life and there is about eight feet of water and silt there. You go down and try to push up, but you get stuck, you’re not coming out of there. And there’s big snapping turtles in there, too.”
Claycomb said he used to swim in the pond when he was young, but no longer does.
Melton said that as far as he can remember — several decades — no one has ever drowned in the pond. The pond is the site of the popular fishing derby held in the spring.
Responding to the scene were Kennett Fire Company No. 1 and its water rescue units, Longwood Fire Company and its water rescue units, Medic 91 and Southern Chester County Rescue.
The incident is being investigated by Kennett Borough police and Kennett Township police. Witnesses are urged to call police at 610-444-6020.