DOE mourns loss of two high school students involved in water-related deathsWritten by Rebecca Elmore
Guam - The Department of Education is mourning the loss of not one, but two high school students who passed away within a day from each other.
Yesterday evening, Superintendent Jon Fernandez confirmed that a paddling accident earlier this week took the life of Jon F. Kennedy student Jacob Gombar.
“Unfortunately, we learned of two sad events this week, one was the passing of the sophomore at JFK H.S. The student was found unconscious at Matapang on Monday afternoon was transported to GMH and we learned that he passed away on Tuesday night.
In a statement released yesterday, Fernandez said Gombar was participating in a community paddling activity, and not a school-sponsored event, at the time he was found. This was a student who was very active in the community paddling as well as on the paddling team for his H.S.
The next death occurred at Dadi Beach. According to Guam Fire Department Spokesperson Kevin Reilly, rescue units responded to a 911 call for a possible drowning. Although CPR was performed on the 18 year old male, now identified as Joey Topasna, the patient passed away while in the care at Naval Hospital.
“Yesterday, around the same time we were still reacting, another student 18 year old ready to graduate was pulled from the water and later passed away. So, those are two bits of news that nobody was happy to hear about,” he said.
Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Aurelio Espinola says he's waiting for lab results to reveal the cause of death for Gombar and will perform the autopsy for Topsana tomorrow morning.
With two back-to-back deaths involving water related incidents, the superintendent is asking all students to exercise extra caution while they're out enjoying the rest of their spring break, "be safe, take it easy watch out for yourself and watch out for others.”
Superintendent Jon Fernandez says school administrators, staff, and counselors will be available Monday to help students cope with the recent loss.