Community members gather for a vigil to remember teen who drowned in Hartford

HARTFORD – Community members came together Monday night at Keney Park to remember 16-year old Jaevon Whyte, the teen who drowned in a pool the night before the Fourth of July.

Reverend Henry Brown sent a message to the younger crowd and urged them to get a swimming lessons so they can prevent another drowning.

Friends and family gathered at the gate of the pool area where Jaevon’s mother wore a shirt of her son and teared up over the memories she once had of him.

Others also stepped in to share their best stories of the teen and said he was a bright soul who wanted to be a police officer and had goals of becoming an NBA basketball player.

Both Reverend Henry Brown and Jaevon’s cousin are angry at the city and said his death could have been prevented had those security cameras been working.

They believe if the city had known those cameras were working, the two pools should not have been filled with water.

“If you can’t swim, go to a swimming class. Let somebody teach you how to swim, but don’t just jump in the pool and know you can’t swim. We don’t know what happened but we do know he lost his life in that pool and if he couldn’t swim, I would hope that young people out here watching tonight, if you can’t swim, go to a swimming instructor and ask them to teach you how to swim,” said Reverend Henry Brown.

“Very angry with the city. I feel like it could’ve been prevented. I feel like if something was done, I just personally feel the pool should never had been filled if the cameras weren’t working, I personally feel like if the alarm wasn’t working, it should’ve never been open. No water should have been filled in that pool,” said Lakeisha Dunn, Jaevon’s cousin.

Hartford City Councilman T.J. Clarke introduced a resolution at the City Council meeting, calling for a review of  Whyte’s drowning. Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said the camera system meant to detect trespassing and alert the city’s surveillance center failed because a modem overheated.

Clarke’s proposed resolution would dig deeper into Whyte’s drowning with an outside forensic analysis of the situation.

“[It would be] looking into who maybe had dropped the ball and actually how do we learn from this, to make sure that mistakes like these – technology glitches – don’t happen again,” said Clarke.

Hartford resident Alyssa Peterson – who spoke about the drowning during the meeting’s public comment period – said she supports the surveillance center, but questions if it’s working as intended.

“My concern is that they’re not properly funding it or staffing it properly,” said Peterson. “This is something that should’ve been caught beforehand.”

Another resident blames parents. “It goes back to parenting, alright?” said Hyacinth Yennie. "And we need to take accountability for parenting, not the government."

Jaevon would've turned 17-years old July 13.