The search for a missing swimmer in Lake Maspenock came to a tragic end Saturday morning, as the body of a 21-year-old Hopkinton resident who failed to return from a Friday evening swim off Sandy Beach was pulled from the water by emergency personnel.
The victim was identified as Wilinson Orbe Quito, who had moved here from Ecuador about two years ago and was working as a roofer, according to Father Peter Joyce of Milford’s Saint Mary of the Assumption Roman Catholic Church. Joyce was on-site Friday and Saturday, comforting the relatives and serving as a translator for the Spanish-speaking family members (some of whom attend his church). [Editor’s note: Joyce clarified the spelling of the victim’s last name, which now is correct.]
Orbe Quito was reported missing at about 8 p.m. on Friday.
“The swimmers went beyond the safe-swimming zone set up at the beach and continued further into Lake Maspenock,” according to a press release from the town. “Upon arriving at the beach, the returning swimmer noticed his friend was missing and called 911.
“Hopkinton firefighters and police officers immediately kicked off a search. Divers from the Massachusetts Fire District 14 Technical Rescue Team also participated. The Hopkinton Fire Department used its sonar-equipped rescue boats and received mutual aid from Natick Fire Department and Westborough Fire Department boats.”
Sandy Beach is staffed by lifeguards, but they do not work evenings.
“There was no lifeguard on duty because their hours end at 5 p.m.,” explained Parks and Recreation Commission chair Dan Terry, noting that there is signage to that effect posted at the beach. “This is a tragedy.”
The search, interrupted multiple times by thunderstorms and heavy rain Friday night, was halted around midnight, then resumed Saturday at about 6:15 a.m. At that point, it was considered a recovery operation, and support was provided by the District 14 Dive Team along with Auburn Firefighter Matthew Ethier and K-9 Riggs, a specially trained dog.
The body was recovered at approximately 8:10 a.m. in 12 feet of water about 90 feet from the shore along the buoy line, according to a town press release.
Joyce said the family was taken to the beach to see Orbe Quito and pray over his body, which is to be returned to Ecuador for burial. Orbe Quito’s parents still live in Ecuador, Joyce said.
Sandy Beach was closed during the search and was to reopen at noon Saturday.
This is the second drowning at Sandy Beach in four years. On June 3, 2019, a 9-year-old boy from Worcester died after being pulled from the water.
Mary Ellen Gambon and John Cardillo contributed to this report.