Rosemont students, staff honour teen who died after being found unconscious in city pool

Students, staff, parents and community members gathered at École Père-Marquette to honour the memory of the 14-year-old boy who died after being found unconscious at the bottom of a city pool in Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie.

Blessing Moukoko, 14, remembered as 'full of life and kindness'

École Père-Marquette students from the basketball team light candles in honour of their teammate Blessing Moukoko, 14, who died Wednesday. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

Students, staff, parents and community members gathered at École Père-Marquette Thursday afternoon to honour the memory of the 14-year-old boy who died after being found unconscious at the bottom of a city pool in Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie.

"As a parent, as a mom of a student and as a human being, I just felt I had to be here, even if I didn't know him," said Debra Ann Da Silva, whose son attends the school.
Blessing Moukoko, 14, died Wednesday after being found unconscious at a pool in Rosemont. (GoFundMe)

Blessing Moukoko, who was in Grade 8, drowned after taking part in a swimming class last Thursday at Centre Père-Marquette, a municipal community centre across the street from the school.  

He had a pulse when rushed to hospital by paramedics after he was found, but he died Wednesday.

Students lit candles and left them outside the school entrance in honour of their classmate Blessing Moukoko. (Valeria Cori-Manocchio/CBC)

Outside the school entrance, some students lit candles, lining them up along the stairs in honour of their classmate.

A fundraising page has also been set up to support the family. It describes Moukoko as a charming young man, who loved basketball and was "full of life and kindness."

"His passing affects us all," reads the GoFundMe page, titled "En soutien à la famille de Blessing."
École Père-Marquette students have left messages in memory of Blessing Moukoko, 14, who died this week after being found unconscious at the bottom of a city pool last Thursday. (Submitted by Steve Quirion)

Family wants answers

Quebec's coroner's office is investigating to determine the probable causes and circumstances surrounding Moukoko's death.

There were about 25 students in the swimming class. The gym teacher and at least one lifeguard were at the pool, an Urgences-Santé spokesperson said at the time.

A lawyer representing the Moukoko family says the handling of the situation by the teen's school has been "unacceptable."

Lawyer Jean-Pierre Ménard said the school still hasn't provided much information about what happened.

It appears the boy spent a long time under the water without anyone noticing, he said.

"It's totally unacceptable. We need to understand. It's impossible that no one knows," he said in an interview Thursday.

Ménard said his clients are still in shock but are coping.

"They're very courageous.…It's very tough," he said.

Alain Perron, a spokesperson for the Commission scolaire de Montréal, which oversees École Père-Marquette, said in an email the school has been in contact with the family throughout the ordeal.

Moukoko's younger brother also attends the school, he said.
The 14-year-old boy died Wednesday after being found unconscious at a pool in Rosemont. (Radio-Canada)

With files from Kate McKenna and Simon Nakonechny