The mother of a 7-year-old boy who drowned after wandering away unnoticed from a city-run summer camp at a Boston beach on Tuesday is speaking publicly for the first time about her son's death, and the community center's director is on paid leave as the city conducts a review into drop-in centers.
"He was happy, he was lovable. Everybody knew who he was," Missy Willis, the mother of Kyzr Willis, told necn Wednesday in an interview in the area of her home. "At the end of the day, you could have took my life. You could have took mine. He only experienced seven years. I had 32. I did mine. I did what I had to do. You could have took mine."
Kyzr was last seen around 2 p.m. Tuesday near the L Street Bathhouse at Carson Beach in the city's South Boston neighborhood. He was attending a day camp at the Curley Community Center, which includes the bathhouse, police said.
"Right away we deployed officers from around the city looking for the young child," Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said. "We checked the water, we checked the shoreline, we were out in neighborhoods, we checked the area around his home in Dorchester. We searched the best we could."
Police found the boy's body around 7 p.m. Family and friends who had rushed to Carson Beach when they heard that the child was missing broke down in tears.
Police are still trying to determine how the boy slipped away from the camp, which is run by the Boston Centers for Youth and Families.
"We'll conduct a thorough investigation, but right now, let's all pray for the family," Evans said. "They're going through something that I don't think anyone here wants to go through."
Walsh stopped by the Curley Community Center on Wednesday morning upon returning to Boston from the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
He spoke with members of the media and said, "my heart goes out to the family, it breaks for the family."
The city's so-called "drop-in centers," such as the one Kyzr was at, will be reviewed, Walsh announced Wednesday afternoon after the Curley Community Center's director was placed on paid leave. Dan Monahan, who the mayor's office says has worked with children for 25 years, will step in as acting director Thursday.
Will Morales, commissioner of Boston Centers for Youth & Families, released a statement on Wednesday saying "The entire BCYF community is absolutely heartbroken on the loss of Kyzr Willis and our deepest sympathies go out to this young boy's family. BCYF will work closely with the Boston Police Department throughout the investigation."
Quincy Police, state police and the U.S. Coast Guard all assisted in Tuesday's search.
The L Street Bathhouse will remain closed until further notice as police continue to investigate. Walsh said it could reopen as early as Thursday.
Carson Beach is a public beach located in the area of 1663 Columbia Ave. and maintained by the state.