Congressman Chris Pappas on Wednesday shared the devastating news that his nephew, Charlie Zink, is the teen who drowned in Sebbins Pond over the weekend in Bedford, New Hampshire.
"There are no words to describe the magnitude of the loss of this amazing 15 year old or what he meant to all who knew and loved him," Pappas wrote on Twitter.
Charlie's obituary says he passed away "in the process of swinging for the limits, simply enjoying a summer evening with friends as a teenage boy."
According to police, the 15-year-old was playing on a rope swing with several friends at the pond Sunday evening when he landed in the water, surfaced briefly and then went under. Bedford police responded around 7 p.m. after one of the teen's friends called 911, and Nashua fire department divers recovered his body around 9:15 p.m.
The Bedford High School student had just finished his freshman year and had made detailed RV travel plans for the summer so he could ride the steepest, fastest and craziest coasters in the world, his obituary said. Charlie dreamed of becoming a world-famous roller coaster designer.
The teen, who was born in Boston, was very excited for his sophomore year classes. Pappas described his nephew as super smart, saying he knew his alphabet before turning two and was a whiz when it came to geography.
Charlie also loved his family, friends and teammates, and was always organizing activities to bring people together to have fun, Pappas said.
Charlie was the son of Pappas' sister Alyssa Zink and her husband, Eric. He had three siblings and two pets whom he loved dearly: 13-year-old Annie, 11-year-old Eva, 8-year-old Oliver, Wilson the dog and Hazel the cat.
Charlie and his brother and sisters would play basketball almost every evening, rain or shine, his obituary said. The rising 10th grader loved basketball more than anything and dreamed of earning a spot on his high school's varsity team.
Charlie was also proud to work at his family's restaurant -- the popular Puritan Backroom. Like the four generations before him, Charlie bused tables and worked in the kitchen, his obituary said. On Monday, the Manchester restaurant was closed, with its Facebook page citing an emergency.
In his obituary, Charlie's parents said the coronavirus pandemic gave them hours, days and weeks to spend together with their beloved son that they wouldn't have had otherwise. During that time, Charlie made his family homemade pasta and sauce, and even air-fried churros for dessert.
"We simply were given the invaluable gift of time with a boy we will never get enough with," the obituary read. "We are so very grateful for that. Charlie was truly a gift to all of us."
Pappas said he would forever treasure the time he was able to bring Charlie and his siblings on the House floor, acknowledging that his nephew was awe-struck by the U.S. Capitol building and all it stands for.
"Charlie dazzled us in infinite ways. He challenged us and taught us so much, he made us laugh and brought those around him closer together," the congressman said. "He will forever be in our hearts. We will cherish every moment of the 15 years he graced this earth. May his memory truly be eternal."
Following Pappas’ social media post Wednesday, Rep. Annie Kuster said she was heartbroken and expressed her condolences. Kuster said in a statement that she had reached out to Pappas to support him and his family during this difficult time.
“The Pappas family is beloved by our entire federal delegation and by constituents across the Granite State," she said. "We urge respect for the family’s privacy and compassion for their loss in the coming days.”
A funeral service for Charlie will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Bedford Presbyterian Church. Anyone attending is required to wear a mask inside. A celebration will be held afterward at the Puritan Backroom Conference Center “and is open to all who would like to celebrate Charlie’s life.” Anyone attending should feel free to wear any jersey they like because Charlie would never want to make someone dress up.