Islanders are coming to terms with shocking news that eight boys have lost their lives in an accident at Portelet Beach.
The students, who were all from the Jesuit School at Highlands College, were visiting the beach with a schoolmaster for their annual picnic. In contrast to previous days, the weather had turned poor with strong winds and rough seas. The tide was falling at the time of the tragedy, exposing the causeway out to Janvrin’s Tomb island. Knowing that the beach falls steeply away on one side of the causeway, some boys entered the water on the shallower western side.
What occurred next is still not fully clear. But it appears that a large wave swamped the boys, most of whom could not swim, and carried them across the causeway into the deeper water on the other side. There, despite rescue attempts by their teacher, eight of them tragically drowned. Six bodies have been recovered with two still missing.
There have been some concerns expressed recently that letters sent by certain Jesuit students contravene censorship rules. In the wake of this tragedy, however, the Island authorities have offered their strongest possible sympathies and support.