Tragedy Stikes At Biloxi River As Two Young Brothers Drown

Two young brothers drowned while swimming in the Biloxi River in Gulfport Sunday afternoon.

Four-year-old Willie Hardy Jr. and. and his brother, 8-year-old Tyrell Hardy were swimming at Dedeaux Park around 3:30 p.m. Sunday with their stepfather. Witnesses reported seeing one of the boys go under and also realized the second boy was missing. People at the scene say the younger brother was having problems and his older brother went in to help.

Divers pulled both of the bodies out of the river a couple of hours later. Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove says the drownings have been ruled accidental, and autopsies will not be performed.

Officials said that was not the first time a child has drowned at the popular swimming spot.

"We've had several drownings at this very location," Pat Sullivan with the Gulfport Fire Department said. "The water is pretty swift on the top, and there are some pretty deep holes."

"[There are] probably four or five different holes out there," Harrison County Sheriffs Officer Richard Giraud said. "It will drop down to 15 feet from two feet to 15 feet just real quick."

Officials estimate that between 250 and 400 people were on the sand and in the water when the drownings happened.

"It's not without its risk out here, and then when you have as many kids and people that you had in the area, it's hard to keep up with the children," Sullivan said.

Because of the conditions of the river at Dedeaux Park, authorities say parents need to keep a close eye on their children. If not, they fear, tragedy will strike there again.