Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Questions remain about Winchester water rescue

By ALYSSA DANDREA Sentinel Staff

WINCHESTER — For Cory T. Nichols of Swanzey, Aug. 15 began like any other, but would take an unexpected turn on his drive to work at Winchester Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.
Nichols, 35, said he saw a police officer near the railroad tracks about a mile from Kelly Farm. A firefighter was also there, in his personal vehicle parked on the side of the road.
“As I started to drive around the truck, you could hear screaming and (the firefighter) started yelling into the woods, saying, ‘I’m coming. I’m coming,’ ” Nichols recalled.
Upon hearing the call for help, Nichols parked his truck and ran into the woods. By the time he caught up to the firefighter, they had both reached a moat, with a 6-foot drop into the murky water below.
“We both jumped in,” Nichols said. “We then swam to an island where three young children were standing.”
The firefighter questioned the kids, who were standing with a canoe and said they were too tired to keep paddling, so they pulled off onto the island, Nichols said.
More than three weeks after firefighters rescued the three children — who were between the ages of 7 and 10 — questions remain about how they got separated from their group while canoeing on the Ashuelot River.
Winchester’s emergency personnel and the local educators who run the out-of-school program for students in grades K-8, are expected to meet to discuss the incident. A date for the meeting has not yet been set, according to Winchester Police Chief Gary A. Phillips.
Winchester Fire Chief Barry D. Kellom said the meeting will be an opportunity for everyone to learn more about what happened that day on the river, as well as how to prevent such an event from happening again.
ACCESS, or All Children, Cared for, Educated, Supported, and Successful, ran the canoe trip the children were on. The program provides learning opportunities for children, parents and community members in partnership with University of New Hampshire’s Cooperative Extension and Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene, according to its website. Activities are usually offered during the school year; however this year, Winchester ACCESS operated a summer program.
ACCESS Director Jeremy S. Miller, who oversees the program’s activities, did not return multiple phone messages left by The Sentinel seeking comment.
Parents who contacted The Sentinel shortly after the incident declined to comment on the record.
Nichols helped bring the children from the island, across the water and back to shore. They later joined the rest of the ACCESS group, which had made it to Kelly Farm, Nichols said.
“I was appalled at the fact that they were alone. I really don’t understand how this could have happened.”
And now the question becomes how to make sure it never happens again.


My kids won't be participating said...

OMG!!! are you kidding me? Three weeks and still no meeting, heads should roll. Can you imagine if they had gone into the water, too tired to paddle also means too tired to swim ! This is typical of those we have in charge here in Winchester. THEY SIMPLY DON'T CARE. They are more worried about their image than finding out who screwed up and owning up to what happened. It's obvious the people overseeing this fiasco are attempting to get their collective ducks in a row and hide the blame, why else the long delay? This is what happens when you elect and appoint incompetent people to positions they have no business being in. How many weeks would it take to investigate if they had all drowned while no one was watching them??

What did you expect? said...

Get over it, its Winchester.

Anonymous said...

Don't care what town it is, problems like this should never happen with children involved. Poor leadership and planning could have resulted in 3 children being seriously hurt or worse, losing their lives. This is unacceptable at any level and this long delay in bringing it to the public's knowledge and having a complete and unbiased investigation with answers as to how and why this happened and who is responsible is reprehensible. But yes, typical for this town and those we have running the show. Seems that when it comes to our children,they are all over their heads in the jobs they have and lack the common sense it takes to make informed and safe decisions. Are these really the people we want in charge of our children?

Anonymous said...

You guys don't understand, This all happened before school started, Access gets most of their registrations at the start of the school year. if this had all come out before registration time guess what? Lower registration #s
Now that they have the kids registered we will start to hear the entire story.
I did hear but cant confirm the adult responsible for this mess was terminated right there and then.

Anonymous said...

Let's hope a meeting happens soon, mistakes are corrected and it never happens again.

Kevin on Swan Street.