Two brothers drowned in a New Jersey school’s indoor pool as their younger sister watched on, city and school officials said.
The brothers, 16 and 19, drowned at Lincoln Community School's pool in Bayonne, New Jersey, just before 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, according to Bayonne Public Schools Superintendent John. J. Niesz and Bayonne Police.
Their names were not released. One brother was a recent graduate of Bayonne High School and the other was a current Bayonne High School junior, Niesz said in a statement.
The drownings are under investigation.
Witnesses and three lifeguards on duty saw the brothers "in distress" at the deep end of the pool, Bayonne Police Capt. Eric Amato said in a news release.
When the brothers did not resurface, the lifeguards dove into the water and pulled them out, police said.
Lifesaving measures were initiated and 911 was called. The brothers were transported to Bayonne Medical Center where they were pronounced dead, Amato said.
No further details were released.
A Bayonne official told NBC New York the victims' family is Chinese-American and there were some communication issues during the emergency response.
The city official also revealed that the brothers’ 11-year-old sister saw the tragedy happen. Amato said a younger sibling was at the pool, but was not involved in the drowning and was not ever in distress during the incident.
The school pool the brothers were in is open at night for community use, the official told the station.
“Out hearts and prayers go out to the family and to all of our community. We will have additional crisis counselors and guidance counselors tomorrow (Thursday) at our school,” Niesz said.
The pool at Lincoln School will be closed to all activities “until further notice,” Niesz said.
Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis said in a statement Wednesday evening, “the city of Bayonne is in mourning tonight as we learn of the passing of two teenage brothers, who drowned this evening.”
“I ask that we all respect the privacy of the family, as they deal with this unspeakable tragedy. We all pray for comfort for our neighbors.”
Fatal child drownings remain high in the U.S., according to an annual drowning and submersion report released Thursday by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Latest data shows that from 2017 through 2019, there were an average of 389 pool or spa related fatal drownings reported per year involving children younger than the age of 15.
Most pool or spa fatal child drownings, at 73 percent, involved children under the age of 5.
Nonfatal drowning injuries involving children younger than the age of 15 spiked 17 percent in 2021 with 6,800 injuries reported, compared with 5,800 reported in 2020.
CPSC Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric is warning parents and caregivers to be vigilant, especially as summer water activities begin.
“Whether a child is playing in a community pool, a neighbor’s pool, or your own, we urge parents and caregivers to prepare their children for water-related activities ... and signing up for swim lessons this summer,” he said.