Today would have been Royston D’Cruz’s first day in Class 10. The 16-year-old student of Holy Family School, Andheri, wanted to enjoy his picnic on Sunday before he immersed himself in academics for the rest of the year.
Royston did not live to see the first day at school. He and his 17-year-old friend, Alex Pandey, drowned off Juhu beach on Sunday. Their neighbour, Catherine Tellis (55), fainted when she heard the boys had drowned. She was rushed to Sanjeevani Hospital at Andheri and is stable. Tellis was with the boys and their friends, all residents of Bamanwada in Chakala, Andheri (East) — when they had gone for a picnic to Juhu beach on Sunday.
The group reached the beach at 9 am. After an hour of playing football, Royston and Alex decided to go for a swim. Their friend, Joseph, warned them from going into the sea. "But they said they were taller than him and nothing would happen," said Deputy Commissioner of Police, Zone IX, KMM Prasanna.
A few minutes later, they were pulled in by the waves.
Royston is survived by his parents and two younger brothers. Alex was a Class 12 student of St Xavier's College, Vile Parle. His father died a few years ago. He was the only child and lived with his mother. Collin D'Cruz, Royston's paternal uncle, said he reached the beach by 10.30 am. "Even though the fire brigade and police were there for several hours, they did not make any attempt to go inside the sea due to the high tide. Why didn't they call for helicopters?" he asked.
Assistant Divisional Fire Officer Abhay Kale said the high tide was hampering search operations. "As soon as the water recedes, we will resume the operation," Kale said.
He added that a BMC lifeguard had warned the boys but they did not pay heed.