Remains of a Louisiana teenage boy who lost his life trying to save his girlfriend from drowning in the heavy currents of the Mississippi River have been identified by his relatives. The 15-year-old was among three children who lost their lives in an accident near the base of a bridge spanning the world’s tenth-largest and fourth-longest river.
On Saturday, April 23, Kevin Poole, his 14-year-old girlfriend Brandy Wilson, and her 8-year-old sister, Ally Berry-Wilson went missing in the waters of the Mississippi River as the children played near the base of the Crescent City Connection Bridge in the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans.
A representative for Poole’s family members, Dr. Angela Chalk, has confirmed his body was found on Monday, May 2.
The accident happened while the three were hanging out with the Wilson girls’ 5-year-old brother at a park near the Crescent City Connection Bridge. Brandy slipped and fell into the river. Both Poole and Ally tried to jump in to help her but were also swept away by the current. The little brother ran home and informed the family of the tragedy.
Poole attended the LB Landry High School in New Orleans and was a football player on the team. Ironically, the sophomore was looking forward to going to college to study environmental stewardship or coastal management — where he could learn to research natural landscapes like the Mississippi River — according to Chalk, a leader at the Native Plant Academy, a program Poole participated in.
His corpse was found approximately two miles downriver from where he jumped in around 11:10 a.m., tangled in wood debris close to an abandoned Piety Wharf. Poole was discovered by an NOPD dive team and Harbor Police patrol boat assigned to the recovery mission, 8 Live shares.
NOLA.com reports the Coast Guard and New Orleans Police Department closed the section of the Crescent Park where the remains were found with yellow tape and worked together to retrieve his body from the river.
Officers of Orleans, Jefferson, St. Charles parish sheriff’s offices, and other volunteers used a multiplicity of resources including K9 units and underwater sonar systems to find the body.
In a statement, Mayor LaToya Cantrell called the finding of the boy’s body “heartbreaking,” saying,
“Today’s news about the recovery of 15-year-old Kevin Poole Jr.’s body from the Mississippi River is absolutely heartbreaking. No parent should have to endure the tragedy of losing a child. Words can never be enough in such a devastating moment, but my thoughts and my prayers are with his family at this time as they will be for some time to come.”
The girls’ father, Allen Berry, tearfully revealed this was the first time his children were allowed to leave their home on their own, adding he allowed them to hang with the friend because their mom was in the hospital.
After the accident, the U.S. Coast Guard was called to search for the children. The federal agency used an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and five boat crews to assist in their search, but suspended its search after 26 hours and searching 93 miles of the river.
The two girls have not yet been found.