FAIRFIELD, Conn. – As 2012 comes to a close, The Fairfield Daily Voice is counting down some of the biggest news stories of the year.
Fairfield’s parks were the site of two tragic, unfortunate incidents in 2012, which left one dead and another with severe injuries.
On July 17, Catherine Celina Perez Trujillo, 10, of Bridgeport went swimming with her family in the northern sections of Fairfield’s Lake Mohegan. She disappeared underwater in an area where the depth of the lake bottom changes dramatically. Dive teams managed to pull her out of the water, but she did not survive.
Catherine’s death was the second drowning fatality in Lake Mohegan in a one-year period. It also was the second case of a swimmer going under in the Cascades section of the Fairfield Park in 2012. In May, a 23-year-old woman was pulled from the water in a similar incident. She survived.
The incident led to increased safety measures at Lake Mohegan. Though the section where Catherine drowned had been a “no swimming” area for years, the town put more visible signs across the area to warn swimmers of the dangers. Fairfield police also worked with local groups to promote swimming safety classes for children.
Two months later, 23-year-old Fairfield University student Justin Hervey was the victim of another tragic accident in a Fairfield park, this time at Tunxis Hill Park. Hervey was in his car in the parking lot Sept. 6 when his vehicle burst into flames. He ran, while on fire himself, toward a Little League game before he was brought to the ground by bystanders.
Hervey survived the fire, and is now receiving treatment for severe burns. Fairfield police still do not know what caused the fire. A laboratory still is analyzing the car to determine how the incident happened.