Drowning victim just started his senior year at Avon Grove

FRAN MAYE — DAILY LOCAL NEWS This was one of the rescue boats used in the water rescue at Anson B. Nixon Park Thursday night.
FRAN MAYE — DAILY LOCAL NEWS Kennett Water Rescue teams responded to the scene of a drowning Thursday night at Anson B. Nixon Park in Kennett Square.

KENNETT SQUARE >> The 17-year-old who drowned at Anson B. Nixon park Thursday night was Raziel Mireles, who had just started his senior year at Avon Grove High School.

Steve Melton, chief of Kennett Fire Co. No. 1, said the drowning is being classified as an accident.

The teen went into the pond to retrieve a soccer ball just after 8 p.m. As he made his way out into deeper water, he began to struggle and called for help, but quickly went under. He never resurfaced.

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“That was a reservoir used for water supply years ago,” said Ed Zunino, Kennett Square police chief. “When it was adopted for use as a reservoir, it was lined with stone at the bottom. The bank is steep and you can see the stones in there. The water gets deep quick and I would say it was about eight feet of water.”

Zunino said the pond is dangerous and is posted for no swimming.

“The bottom is slippery and there is no footing,” Zunino said.

The 108-acre Anson B. Nixon Park is located in both Kennett Square and Kennett Township. There are two ponds at the park and the drowning occurred at the smaller pond. The park is managed by Kennett Area Park Authority. Richard Lyons, KAPA director, called the drowning a “tragedy.”

“As members of the local Kennett community and stewards of the Anson B. Nixon Park, we are deeply saddened by the tragedy that occurred in the Park last night,” he said. “The loss of a young life is devastating beyond words.”

Karen Sherer, Kennett Square secretary, said the accident is unfortunate.

“The borough is not the same today,” she said. “It is a little somber.”

Zunino, who said he swam in the pond at one time, said he was informed the victim was a novice swimmer.

“No one swims there,” Zunino said. “I haven’t heard of a drowning there and I’ve been here 39 years.”

Bob Hotchkiss, Jr., chief executive officer of Southern Chester County EMS, Medic 94, said rescue workers undergo extensive training for water rescues.

“We train for swift water and still water, and that training kicked in for those volunteers,” Hotchkiss said. “There are a lot of factors that go into a water rescue – the water type, the water temperature, the age of the patient – and I think they (rescue works) did well on that operation at the park.”

Hotchkiss said he was proud to see the volunteers work so efficiently at the scene.

“The majority of (rescue workers) were volunteers, unpaid professionals,” Hotchkiss said. “Everything was in the young man’s favor, but it was not a successful effort.”

Kennett Fire Co. No. 1 has a dedicated water rescue unit, and volunteers spend hundreds of hours to train for emergency water situations.

Officials at Avon Grove High School were notified Friday morning. It has not yet been determined what type of grief counseling will be available when school returns next week.

About the Author

Fran Maye

Fran Maye is an award-winning journalist and a graduate of Shippensburg University. He and his wife Marianne live in East Marlborough. He enjoys golf and is a 4.0 tennis player. Reach the author at kennettpaper@gmail.com or follow Fran on Twitter: @kennettpaper.