Guilford drowning ruled accidental

Tuesday, July 7, 2009
By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff

GUILFORD — Friends remembered Garland Brown, 19, as a sociable member of the University of Connecticut community, a day after he accidentally drowned.

Police are still investigating the incident, which occurred at a private pond off Susanne Circle Sunday afternoon, but they initially said that it “does not appear suspicious.” The office of the chief state medical examiner classified the death as an accidental drowning following an autopsy Monday.

Also Monday, Branford police responded to another man’s death when a resident of the Harbor Village condominium complex died due to a medical condition while swimming in Long Island Sound. Police said the man, 71, may have had a heart attack or other event. The unidentified man was transported to Yale-New Haven Hospital and pronounced dead.

Brown, of Queens, N.Y., was visiting friends in Guilford with other UConn students when the accident occurred. He apparently was swimming in the pond at about 2:40 p.m. when he disappeared underwater, police said. His friends pulled him from the water and began CPR. Emergency responders took Brown to the Yale-New Haven Shoreline Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Police said the pond ranged from about 3 feet to 8 feet deep. Detectives do not believe drugs or alcohol were involved in the incident, according to the Police Department.

Brown was just finishing up a summer course at UConn, said classmate Eduardo Garcia. Brown and Garcia were both entering their junior years studying engineering, Garcia said.

Garcia described Brown as “like a brother to me.”

“He was one of the first people I met at the University of Connecticut,” Garcia said. “He was genuine and honest, and his loss definitely has an impact on my life as well as, I’m pretty sure, others.”

Garcia said he and Brown would study together and meet up during the summer, when Garcia was home in New Jersey and Brown was in New York. He said they were planning to celebrate Brown’s 20th birthday next week, and they had spoken a few minutes before the incident Sunday. Garcia said there were about five friends swimming in the Valley Shores area, and he had spoken to some of them, but did not have details of the accident.

Another friend from UConn, Marcus Chapman, wrote in an e-mail that Brown spoke German and was participating in UConn’s Eurotech dual-degree program, which allows students to earn a Bachelor of Science in engineering and a Bachelor of Arts in German studies, according to UConn’s Web site.

Chapman added that Brown loved basketball and “constantly went to the gym and even pushed me to go to work out and play pickup basketball games.”

“He would always have a joke or a comment to say that would make you smile or laugh,” Chapman wrote. “He was a hard worker that when he faced a bump in the road, he kept going. He really looked up to his older brother and used him for motivation.”

By Thursday afternoon, a Facebook page set up by Brown’s brother, Andre Brown, Garcia, Chapman and another friend had hundreds of members, many of whom left condolences and happy memories of Brown.

Garcia said Brown will be remembered as an outgoing and friendly person.

“He was just nice to people — that was his one main thing, that he was really nice to people,” he said. “He was just completely humble and honest. That was one of the things that people will remember him (by).”

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