EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack River tragedy: Five years later

December 14, 2007

Survivor bravely goes on with his life never forgetting little Christopher


When the subject turned to his little brother and the accident on the river, his voice became softer. He said he and his friends don’t discuss it.

“Nobody really talks about it,” he said.

Otero said Ivan doesn’t discuss the tragedy at the Boys and Girls Club.

“It’s a sensitive subject. So we don’t bring it up,” Otero said.

One more day

When asked what he would say to his brother if they had one last day together, Ivan sat silently on his couch. He stared toward his hands resting near his knees. He fidgeted, rubbing a small piece of clear plastic with his fingers.

“I don’t know,” he replied.

Christopher would have turned 12 on Dec. 28. He died two weeks before his eighth birthday. He was the outgoing child. The youngest of three boys, he had a wide grin and boundless enthusiasm. Jacqueline remembered that Christopher was so excited during a trip to Canobie Lake Park in Salem, N.H., that he tried to be first in line for rides.

Ivan, the middle child, has a small, meek smile. He speaks slowly and quietly. He whistles softly when he walks.

“Christopher was like me, but he (Ivan) was shy,” Jacqueline said.

Separated in age by only two years, Ivan and Christopher played side by side. They attended the Guilmette School. Christopher was in the second grade and Ivan was in the fourth at the time of Christopher’s death. Both boys liked basketball and video games.

They could have passed for twins. Ivan was about an inch taller, and they each had shaved heads. Both boys were thin, but Christopher’s face had more baby fat.

Ivan’s older brother, Harold, 19, is a freshman at Salem State College. He lives on campus and returns home on the weekends. Harold declined to be interviewed for this story.

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