WEST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — West Haven High School students back from summer break are dealing with a tragedy after a classmate, 16-year-old Alesandro Zitlalpopoca, was found dead Monday at Bradley Point Beach.
“It is sad to see him go,” WHHS student Aryana Taddei said. “That is going to be hard, like, walking into school because there are going to be people who actually knew him and actually cared about him.”
According to officials the teen swam out to a rock with his girlfriend, and was seen struggling in the water before he disappeared. For hours dive teams searched the water. Zitlalpopoca’s body was recovered 30 yards off shore.
The teen’s death is heartbreaking to the West Haven community. “We heard about it last night, my wife and I on TV, and we’ve gone down there a lot,” says parent Joe Sette. “It is just devastating. My goodness, I couldn’t imagine that happening to one of our kids.”
Classmates say Zitlalpopoca was involved in sports and was a good student. “He was athletic, I knew that he was on the track team,” Jazmine Rodriguez said.
Neil Cavallaro, Superintendent of Schools in West Haven, says grief counselors will be on hand as long as needed. “The other thing we are prepared to do is to keep students there, keep counselors there, after school for students who may need it.”
“The grief counselors are a good thing,” Sette said. “A lot of these kids just don’t know how to handle situations like that. They seem to happen way too often.”
“It’s upsetting,” parent Cindy Reed said. “You know, you can’t get a grip on it. You don’t understand why it happened.”
In a statement the district said “”Our thoughts and prayers are with Alejandro’s family and friends, and we cannot imagine how heartbroken they must be.”
An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of Zitlalpopoca’s death.