News / Hamilton

Jolley Cut teens said ‘goodbye’ before their deaths

In the hours before their deaths, two Saltfleet District High School students sent out text messages to their circle of friends “saying goodbye.”

The two 16-year-old boys died at the foot of the Jolley Cut Saturday morning in what their friends believe was a joint suicide.

Friends and peers were shocked by the tragedy and mourned the boys, who they say were close friends, on Facebook and Twitter.

Family has identified one of the two boys as Irn Turner Mace. The name of the second boy has not been released, but friends identify him as Alex McCormack.

It’s unclear what happened in the hours before their bodies were recovered from the cliff side around 6:30 a.m., or how exactly they ended up there, storeys below the roadway.

An off-duty police officer just coming off his shift passed the pair on the Jolley Cut around 5:30 a.m. He told the boys they were in a dangerous area and called police dispatch to let them know what he’d seen. It’s not clear where exactly the officer encountered them or what was unsafe about it.

Police say the pair was last seen walking on the Jolley Cut.

On the first stretch up the Jolly Cut, above where their bodies were found, there is a sidewalk, with a five-foot railing on the escarpment side and a stone wall between the path and the road. Several storeys below is a cement water drainage structure built into the cliffside of the escarpment.

Approximately 45 minutes later, police were called to that spot for two seriously injured young men. An ambulance was called, but the boys, their bodies close together, were pronounced dead at the scene.

Police have not released the names or ages of the boys.

On social media, friends left messages of grief and condolences for the boys’ families.

Because of the police officer’s interaction with the two boys, Hamilton police notified the province’s Special Investigations Unit. The SIU probes incidents involving police that end in serious injury or death.

SIU investigator John Line said Saturday that it was too early in the investigation to say how the two ended up several storeys below the cut by the Claremont Access.

In the early hours of the morning, the boys sent out messages to friends; some simply said goodbye while others were longer.

The fire department’s high-angle team mounted a full-scale recovery effort on the escarpment through Saturday morning, spokesperson Dave Christopher said. About a dozen team members using ropes and rescue gear were involved in bringing the bodies down in yellow stretchers to a flat area under the trees at the Charlton Avenue exit of the Claremont Access. The ramp was clogged with fire engines, police cars and the SIU mobile command van.

School board spokesperson Jackie Penman said social work services will be available at Saltfleet Monday for staff and students who need any kind of support.

“The school will also work closely with the families,” she said. “Obviously, we respect their privacy so we would work closely to ensure we support them and make sure we abide by their wishes.”

These are the third and fourth sudden deaths in the school’s student body this semester.

“This has been certainly a difficult time for the school community. Our hearts go out to the families. It’s a tragic loss,” Penman said.

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