Community center director on paid leave after boy found dead at beach

BOSTON (WHDH) - The director of the Curley Community Center was placed on paid administrative leave after a boy attending a city-run summer program was found dead in the water at a South Boston beach Tuesday.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said the director is on leave, pending an investigation into what happened when Kyzr Willis, 7, disappeared. Walsh said his staff will be reviwing protocols at community centers throughout the city, as well as assessing all the summer camps and drop-in centers run by the city. The city investigation will be done independently from the police investigation.

“My hope and expectation as mayor is that no family ever has to go through this type of loss,” said Walsh. “This was a tough day, just a horrible day.” Walsh and Boston Police Commissioner William Evans met with Kyzr’s family Wednesday morning to offer sympathy and support. Walsh also met with camp counselors and officials from the Curley Community Center.

Kyzr, who was from Dorchester, was last seen Tuesday afternoon near the L Street bath house at Carson Beach. There are conflicting reports as to when Kyzr was last seen and Walsh said the investigation will determine the exact time frame. Police said Kyzr walked out of the bath house in his bathing suit and he was not seen after that. Police and fire boats searched the water while lifeguards looked in the shallow parts of the beach. The Coast Guard also sent out helicopters.

Evans said Kyzr was found dead at around 7 p.m. Tuesday, not far from where he was last seen. Evans said Kyzr was found about 15 yards from the shore behind the bath house and the exact cause of death is not yet known, as autopsy results are pending.

“We’ll conduct a thorough investigation but right now, let’s all pray for the family,” said Evans. “They’re going through something everyone here never wants to go through.”

Kyzr was attending a drop-in summer program at the Curley Community Center and Walsh said there are no surveillance cameras in the area where Kyzr went missing. Walsh said the drop-in program is held year-round and the amount of children in the program changes daily; the program does not require enrollment, unlike the city’s summer camps. Walsh estimated there was 25 counselors, a director, two supervisors above the director and eight lifeguards at the beach watching 56 children when Kyzr went missing.

Kyzr’s family held a vigil in his memory at Carson Beach Wednesday night, spelling his name out on the sand in candles.

“We loved him. It’s so bad to lose him like that, it’s really bad to lose him,” said Kyzr’s grandfather, Ralph Jackson. “We need answers, we really do. This family needs answers.”

Walsh said the Curley Community Center will reopen to adults on Thursday and on Monday for children.

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