St. John’s Antigua- His friendliness and positive attitude would always be remembered because those characteristics were the hallmark of all of Everette Tonge’s 17 years that ended tragically Thursday evening when he drowned.
For some of Tonge’s classmates at Island Academy, yesterday was probably one of their saddest days as they sat in CXC Spanish examination room staring at his empty chair, struggling to focus on the questions before them a few hours after learning of his death.
“And the arms of the ocean are carrying me, And all this devotion was rushing out of me, In the crushes of heaven for a sinner like me, But the arms of the ocean delivered me, And it’s over,” was one poem dedicated to the teen and posted on his Facebook page.
Searching for words to describe his feelings, principal of the school, Dr Ronan Matthew stammered, “It’s one of those circumstances that unfortunately we can’t go back and say perhaps … I don’t even know what to say. I’m at a loss for words knowing it’s something that could not have been avoided. Unfortunately, we cannot turn back time or circumstances like this. It’s been really devastating. He had so much, so much vibrancy. Just started life. Just 17 years old.”
The school’s head said the school is prepared to offer counselling to students affected by the incident. Classes were cancelled yesterday, except for CXC students, to pay homage to the dead teenager.
Tonge attended Island Academy from grade one.
One teacher, also touched, took to social network Facebook to share what Tonge’s good nature taught her about life.
“You didn’t get to know Spanish, but I got to know you pretty well, and I really liked what I saw.
I say goodbye. Thanks for teaching a teacher how to live, how to enjoy and how to laugh.
Antigua is less beautiful without you,” the teacher wrote.
Many more tributes poured out.
“I’m in a school that is not Island Academy, but I see you in every corner, in every desk, in every kid who jumps trying to reach a ball. I wish you were here,” said a friend.
Another wrote, “Everette was a person who brought the frowns to smiles and cries to laughs. His personality was like a river, never ending. Looking into his eyes you could see this light shade of caramel reflecting off the sun. He was a smart, handsome, kind, loving gem who should never be forgotten.
“Memories we had with him would always be cherished in our hearts. We all can’t believe that this day has come for him. Now each person should recognize how precious life is.”
According to a police statement, the teenager, who resided at Swetes, went diving at Windward Bay Thursday evening with friends and while under water he collided with one of them.
While his friend surfaced, Tonge was nowhere to be seen.
An Antigua & Barbuda Search And Rescue (ABSAR) team and local fisherman searched the rough waters for the teen, but it took them about 20 minutes to find him.
Tonge, who knew how to swim, was unresponsive when ABSAR tried to resuscitate him.
He was pronounced dead on arrival at Mount St John’s Medical Centre.