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New London — In a vigil of prayer, song and words of hope outside the cordoned-off Greens Harbor Beach Friday evening, community members mourned the loss of a beloved child and called for action to prevent such a death from happening again.
The Rev. Wade Hyslop, who is also a city councilor, offered his support to the family gathered for the vigil. He echoed other speakers' sentiments in calling to have lifeguards whenever the beaches are open. He supported offering free programs and institutions in New London, such as a YMCA where children can learn to swim or engage in other activities.
"Something must happen after a loss like this," Hyslop said in a circle of people that included 6-year-old Anthony Bernoudy's mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. "We have a mother who has lost her only son and a grandmother and a great-grandmother who have lost a child in their family. But we should let something good come out of this, something that benefits the community, something that could be done in Anthony Bernoudy's name."
Glenn Bernoudy Jr., Anthony's great-uncle, spoke on behalf of the family. He thanked the first responders for providing closure for his family and also challenged the state to come up with preventative measures, such as requiring life jackets for all children on beaches to ensure the safety of children as they play.
"It's a shame that on the Fourth of July we lost such a beautiful soul," Glenn Bernoudy said. "Anthony was full of life."
Cathy Iozzia, who had been Anthony's kindergarten teacher at Jennings Elementary School, spoke to the mourners. "He was a beautiful little boy," she said.
After the vigil, Tamyra Bernoudy, Anthony's mother, hugged each person who came up to her to offer support. She also left a sports balloon and other gifts for her son in an area by the fence where others had also left signs of their love — a small mitt and baseball, teddy bears and candles.