Community in Shock After Missing Nashua 16-Year-Old Body’s Found

Jacob Goulet was reported missing Saturday morning

A medical examiner has identified a body pulled from the Merrimack River as that of a 16-year-old boy from Nashua, New Hampshire believed to have been swept into a storm drain Friday.

Jacob Goulet was found in the Merrimack River in Tyngsborough, Massachusetts.

Now days after the teen went missing, members of his community still hope for his safe return home.

Friends gathered near the place he was last seen to pay their respects.

"It's unreal," Jacob's friend, Nicholas Brown, said. "It doesn’t seem real to me that something like this could happen where I could be making jokes with him in second block at school and then a day later he turns up missing."

Amy Dogherty brought flowers to the scene in honor of her daughter's best friend.

"It's not fair," Gogherty said. "He was just funny, and he was just a great person."

Jacob's friends gather together to cope with the loss of a life cut too short.

"I was crying. I couldn't believe this happened," Jacob's friend Jesse Caron said. "I think it's sad but I'm also happy becuase he's in a better place."

Police believe Jacob fell through an open storm drain and was swept away into the water below.

Now, the city is facing questions about how this could happen and why the drain wasn't properly capped until Sunday.

"How is that supposed to come up? That should be secured," Dogherty said. "Shame on the city."

Nashua had a flash flood warning Friday night when Jacob went missing.

"It is common in older cities that manhole covers can pop off during high flow events, and we had a number of them do this in Nashua that evening," Director of Emergency Management for the City of Nashua Justin Kates said. "The cover one being focused on as part of this incident is not a typical manhole cover though, but instead a steel plate cover to a sewer interceptor. Our Engineering Department has been unable to verify how this specific cover would have become dislodged, but is continuing to investigate."

The city's Division of Public Works investigated the cover and was unable to determine the exact cause of the cover becoming dislodged.

Moving forward, the city is designing measures to prevent another incident of this kind. Public Works crews are currently inspecting and securing all sewer covers with with tamper-proof bolts and locks. They are also replacing any existing aluminum covers with heavier, more durable stainless steel covers.

The city will start monthly inspections, but Jacob's friends believe this could have been prevented.

"He was two minutes from home," said Dogherty. "It's just heartbreaking becuase it shouldn't happen."

Jacob is not the first of his kind—an Iowa family lost their youngest son, Hunter Blake, in June 2014 when he fell into a storm drain. Hunter's father, Mark Blake, started Project Storm Drain Safety to bring awareness and help prevent accidents of this kind.

"It's like a condensed raging river that you can't stand in and actually six inches of water will take you off your feet in heavy rain and in a flood storm," Mark Blake said.

Five inches of rain fell in Iowa when his son taken in a storm drain accident, but three inches of rain fell in just two hours the night Jacob was swept away.

Jacob was a student at Nashua North High School. On Monday, they will have grief couselors on hand for his classmates.

The incident is still under investigation.

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