Father of teen who drowned on school trip demands answers
Courtney Greenberg, CP24.com
Published Friday, July 7, 2017 5:59PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, July 7, 2017 11:20PM EDT
The father of a teen who drowned on a school trip to Algonquin Park earlier this week says he is still looking for answers.
Jeremiah Perry, a 15-year-old CW Jefferys Collegiate student, left to go camping with his school on Sunday morning. His body was found in Big Trout Lake on Wednesday. The teen’s older brother, Marrion Anderson, was also one of the 33 students on the trip. Both boys had moved with their family from Guyana to Toronto in September.
“Before they left, Jerry knocked on the door. He said, ‘Daddy, we're leaving.’ So I said, ‘Okay,’ right? Went back to sleep. Went back to sleep. Not knowing that was the last time I would ever hear Jerry's voice,” Perry’s father Joshua Anderson told CTV News Toronto.
Anderson and his other sons are left wondering why Perry was allowed in the water without a lifejacket on, considering the fact that there were six supervisors with the students. According to Perry’s brother Marrion, the siblings were put through a swim test around a week before the trip, however, he said neither of them knew how to swim. They apparently passed the test anyway.
“They say you have to like, swim from one point to the other. But everyone was wearing a lifejacket,” said Marrion.
Perry’s father said he wants to find out exactly what happened.
“Let's get to the bottom of this so no other parent will go through what I go through,” he told CTV News Toronto. “If Jerry was here, Jerry would've loved to be sitting here in front of the camera, and posing and being the superstar right? That's him.”
Anderson said Perry loved to ride his bike, which has sat unused since he died, and he also enjoyed making people laugh. Perry’s brother Nathan remembers all of the fun they had together.
“Today I wake up in the morning. He's not there. We used to laugh every morning,” he said.
Marrion added that Perry would make Nathan laugh “until water came out your eyes.”
A Go Fund Me page was set up Friday to support the Andersons and to honour Perry.
On Friday evening, Toronto District School Board director John Malloy released a written statement about the school trip.
“We continue to support Jeremiah’s parents in any way we can, as well as the impacted students and staff,” he wrote.
Malloy said the board would not comment on the circumstances of Perry’s drowning as it is under investigation by the coroner and the OPP.
“We can confirm however that this excursion required that students pass a canoe trip swim test and canoe trip skills test to participate and that students who were unable to pass the tests were not to go on the trip.”
He added that Jeremiah’s parents and those involved “deserve to know what happened” and that the TDSB will be “cooperating fully with any investigation into this matter.”