Twelve-year-old loses his battle for life

Angel Ortiz, 12, died July 31, about one week after lifeguards pulled him from the waters of Candlewood Lake at Lynn Deming Park in New Milford.

The Danbury youth never regained consciousness, family friends said.

Angel had been transported July 24 to Connecticut Children's Medical Center in Hartford after being pulled unconscious from the water.

As for what happened at the beach, one parent who was there said Monday that Angel and his best friend apparently were playing a game near the floating dock in which they would duck under the water, touch bottom and pop up again.

Park lifeguards were alerted when Angel did not re-emerge. Police said at the scene he was found unconscious at least five minutes later. Lifeguards immediately started cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.

New Milford Parks & Recreation officials have given no statements other than condolences to the family.

The accident has prompted at least one new safety precaution at the park: lifeguards are now posted on the dock.

Local mother Sandra Mathew, who witnessed the rescue effort, said she appreciates the extra vigilance.

"Angel, you were a great ballplayer and an even better friend,'' wrote an under-12 youth baseball teammate in Danbury, Alex Porta, on Angel's memorial Web page.

"All of us who have been lucky enough to get to know you will always remember you,'' he wrote.

Lisa Collinge of Danbury, whose son, Shawn, was also a teammate, remembered Angel as a quiet "go-getter.'' She said she enjoyed hanging out with his family at games. Her younger daughter, Katie, would play with Angel's sister, Pamela.

"It's an awful tragedy,'' said an emotional Collinge. "I can't even imagine. I keep thinking I am going to wake up from a bad dream.''

Angel's No. 12 was stitched on all the team members' shirts Wednesday as homage, not just for this season but "forever," teammates said.

"It's sad, heartbreaking, actually,'' said Bob Gilchrist, the team's head coach. "He was just a great all-around kid, probably one of the hardest-working kids out there."