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Deaths of Milwaukee boys ruled accidental

Boys may have drowned before police told they were missing



MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin (CNN) -- In what is being called a "tragic accident," police confirmed Saturday the two bodies pulled from a Milwaukee, Wisconsin, park lagoon were those of two boys who disappeared nearly a month ago.

Autopsies performed Saturday morning showed Quadrevion Henning, 12, and Purvis Parker, 11, drowned, said Dr. Jeffrey Jentzen of the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's office.

"There was no evidence of any injury or any foul play that would lead us to suspect that there was any criminal activity," he said.

Milwaukee Police Chief Nan Hegerty said: "There has been no sign of foul play. We do not believe it was anything other than a tragic accident.

"Absent any additional investigation, this is a closed case at this time," she said.

The boys were last seen March 19 as they headed to McGovern Park near their homes to play ball.

Hegerty said police are not certain how the boys wound up in the park's lagoon but said there was speculation that Parker, who could not swim, fell in and Henning went in after him. She described Henning as a "strong swimmer."

Both bodies were fully clothed.

The water at the time the boys disappeared was very cold, and in some spots icy, Hegerty said. The lagoon's deepest point is 20 feet.

Hypothermia can set in almost immediately in icy water, as cold water can cause a person's heart to stop, Jentzen said. He estimated that death could have followed in 10 to 15 minutes.

The boys likely were in the water before police were even notified that they were missing, Hegerty said.

Parker's body was found floating on the water about 7:23 p.m. (8:23 p.m. ET) Friday by a man and his son who were walking through McGovern Park, and they called 911, Hegerty said. Divers found Henning's body about 9:45 p.m.

The bodies were found on different sides of the lagoon, she said.

Hegerty said divers failed to find the bodies during a search in March because the water was strewn with garbage and "mucky." Also, she said, bodies tend to sink in cold water, and they could have been covered by silt.

The park around the lagoon had been searched "multiple times" she said. A search on March 21 included police officers and search dogs, and volunteers and officers searched on foot March 23. Planes and helicopters with heat detectors also turned up nothing in another search, she said.

"As a parent, I cannot imagine anything worse than losing a child," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. "I have spoken to both families within the last hour. ... Both families, obviously, are very emotional. But both used the word 'closure,' and I think we recognize what they're saying: that the uncertainty is horrible."

Early on Saturday the boy's family members told reporters that photos of the bodies they were shown on Friday night had convinced them the boys had been found. (Watch an uncle talk of 'closure' -- 1:19)

Hegerty said police classified the search a criminal probe to enable authorities to bring in other agencies and resources they might not otherwise had been able to.

When asked about possible precautions at the park aimed at preventing further accidents in the lagoon, Hegerty said the park was owned by the county, not the city.

Routine toxicology testing was done as part of the autopsies, Jentzen said, and preliminary results should be available by the end of the week.

CNN correspondent Jonathan Freed contributed to this report

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