Students and school board officials remember teen brothers after tragic drowning

The 16- and 19-year-olds passed away at the Lincoln Community School pool on June 8

At its June meeting, the Bayonne Board of Education took time to honor two local teenage brothers who recently drowned in a school district pool.

At the June meeting, Board of Education Maria Valado offered a few words before leading a moment of silence.

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“This was a very sad week in the city of Bayonne for our school community,” Valado said. “Two young lives were lost. Id like to take a moment of silence for Chu Ming and Jack, who were lost at the prime of their lives.”

Tragedy at Lincoln Community School pool

The brothers, 19-year-old Chu Ming Zheng and 16-year-old Jack Jiang, were pronounced dead by authorities on the evening of June 8 after drowning at the Lincoln Community School pool. Jiang was a junior at Bayonne High School and Zheng was an alum who had just finished his freshman year at the University of Miami.

The incident occurred at approximately 8:23 p.m. when the pool is open to the community after school hours. While three lifeguards were on duty, the drownings still occurred, although the incident reportedly occurred in a closed secondary pool meant for diving that is smaller than the primary pool but deeper.

A third sibling, their sister who is in the fourth grade at Horace Mann Community School, was present at the pool during the incident, but was not involved, according to police. Additional details to continue to emerge in the wake of the tragedy at the Lincoln Community School pool. Meanwhile, the pool is closed and crisis counselors and guidance counselors are available at schools.

 A moment of silence

Amid the many questions that have arisen in the wake of tragedy, the board has commissioned an independent investigation into the incident. At the same time, the Bayonne Police Department, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the school district insurance carrier are conducting separate investigations, according to Superintendent of Schools John Niesz.

Mayor James Davis has recently urged the community to be patient regarding the inquiries into what happened that evening. Davis said Police Chief Robert Geisler is leading the investigation: “Please be patient as the police and the Board of Education investigate exactly what occurred.”

Awaiting the results of the investigation, officials and the rest of the community alike mourn the loss of life and offer thoughts prayers to the family. Prior to the moment of silence at the June meeting, the board highlighted another death in the community that occurred recently. In addition to the two boys, Valado also asked everyone to reflect on the loss of an unnamed custodian “who also lost his life.”

Bayonne Board of Education President Maria Valado (center) held back tears as she offered a few words regarding the late brothers.

“It was a very sad week in our school district,” Valado said. “Please let’s have a moment of silence.”

Student rep offers solemn words

Outgoing student council representative to the Bayonne Board of Education Alyssia Ouhocine also addressed the board on the tragic loss of life. Ouhocine mourned both Zheng and Jiang, in a short speech before briefly touching on other subjects.

“They were friends to so many of us and just incredible people who were good, and talented, and kind,” Ouhocine said, choking up as she fondly recalled the two brothers.

Ouhocine asked people to donate to an online GoFundMe fundraiser webpage currently accepting donations on behalf of the family. The district previously collected gift cards at the Korpi Ice Rink at the high school until June 13 to give to the family.

“I encourage everyone to support the boys’ family,” she said. “There is currently a GoFundMe that is collecting donations that go directly to them. No amount of money can bring those boys back, but it’s the most we can do to support them in this very difficult time.”

Ouhocine continued: “The Bayonne High School community is mourning this tragic loss. And they will always be in our hearts.”

She ended by quoting Maya Angelou: “I answer the heroic question, ‘Death, where is thy sting?’ with ‘It is here in my heart, and my mind, and my memories.’”

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.

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