Boating tragedy claims lives of two children, devastates community

By Natasha Dado
SYLVAN LAKE — This week several vigils were held at Chaldean churches across metro Detroit, where members of the close knit community gathered to pray for the victims of the horrific boating accident that took place on Sunday and left two siblings, ages 11 and six, dead and another, 10, in critical condition, who’s fighting for her life.

The father of the three children, John Mansour, was riding his jet ski, while towing his three children behind in a tube, when a speed boat accidentally ran the kids over.

Sources say the 56-year-old man who hit the children is very distraught and simply didn’t see them.

Alexander, the eldest of the children, was transported to McLaren Hospital in Pontiac, where he was pronounced dead. The girls were rushed to William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, where the youngest, Gabrielle, died on Monday; the same day a candlelight vigil was held at the St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Church in West Bloomfield.

Over 1,000 people attended the vigil that was patrolled by police, in order to control the traffic. People who weren’t related to the family came to offer prayers for Adriana, who is still fighting for her life.

Sources close to The Arab American News say that relatives of the Mansour family have packed Beaumont Hospital for days now.

The Mansour family.
“We always come together in tragedy even when they are strangers. The church was filled beyond its capacity. As truly tragic and painful as this time is, I find some comfort in knowing we come from a culture that is so compassionate and empathetic. When one struggles in great tragedy, it seems to weigh heavy on all our hearts,” said Val Kizy, a member of the community, who isn’t related to the family, but attended a vigil this week.

She says that a prayer service took place for about an hour inside the St. Thomas Church. Afterwards, people lined up outside the grotto to light candles and offer more prayers.

Prayer vigils were also held at Chaldean churches in Troy, Shelby Township and Southfield.

“Let’s pray for Adriana Mansour who is in a really bad situation at the hospital and everyone who is in need of prayers,” a statement from the St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church read.

A vigil was also reportedly held in San Diego, California for the family. The City is home to one of the largest Chaldean American communities as well.

Alexander, 11, (left) and Gabrielle, 6, (right) lives were cut short from the boating accident.
The Mansour Family is from West Bloomfield Township and was at their summer cottage when the accident occurred.

The man who hit the children reportedly lives on the lake; neighbors say he’s been boating for a long time. Police do not believe that alcohol was a factor in the accident. The mother was on shore during the accident.

Doctors and others who live on the lake rushed to try and help the children and give them CPR. According to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department, the father was traveling north to south on the lake when the boat, traveling west to east, collided with the children.

Marvin Mansour, the brother of the children’s father,John, issued the following statement on Wednesday, thanking supporters:

“On behalf of the family, I would like to thank everyone in the metro Detroit area and beyond for all of their thoughts and prayers in support of our family.

The family is undergoing a horrible tragedy, and we appreciate the respect of everyone for the family’s privacy.

Thanks for everyone in their offer of donations and support. We expect to establish a memorial fund in the name of the children soon and will provide that information when available.

God bless all of you for all the prayers for Alexander, Adriana and Gabrielle.

Please continue your prayers for our beautiful 10-year-old angel Adriana and hope that she makes a full recovery. She remains in critical condition, but we see little signs of improvement and pray they continue.”

Funeral arrangements were planned for Friday, July 19 at Mother of God Chaldean Catholic Church in Southfield where a funeral mass was expected to begin at noon Friday, and will be followed by a burial service. No visitation took place.

Following the incident officials in the City of Sylvan Lake announced the reintroduction of a marine patrol on both Sylvan and Otter lakes on summer weekends.

Sylvan Lake City Manager John Martin said the City will contract with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department Marine Division to patrol the two lakes.