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Tears for Teens

Prayers for families of Repulse cousins who died in boating accident

Nathan VanderKlippe
Northern News Services

Repulse Bay (Aug 07/02) - The fear of undiscovered death has melted into pure grief for residents of Repulse Bay, where two teenaged cousins died more than a week ago.

The cousins, Darryl, 17, and Andy Tagornak, 13, died in the waters of Repulse Bay after a one-person kayak they were paddling flipped over, leaving the two in water just above the freezing point.

An intensive search that involved almost the entire community finally concluded at about 5:30 p.m., July 31, when the second body was discovered. Andy's body was dragged out of the water at about 9:10 p.m., July 30. Both bodies were discovered near each other, about seven metres beneath the surface just in front of the hamlet.

With the exhausting search concluded, family and friends have been left to face the blunt reality of their losses. Those who knew them said the cousins shared a sense of humour, and meetings on the street were usually accompanied by laughter.

Darryl's teachers said his attendance record was far from perfect, but he was known in the community as a good hunter. He was also mechanically inclined, and liked fixing things.

He and his friends would "go play around in town, bicycle riding. We used to like fixing bicycles," said Andy Kaunak, who was one of a solid group of five or six friends that Darryl hung out with.

Struggling to voice his memories, Kaunak said Darryl enjoyed "normal" stuff -- things like playing video games and watching movies.

Andy didn't have a perfect attendance record, either, said his teacher and principal, Leonie Aissaoui. But whenever he would miss a few days, he would return to an energetic welcome, she said.

"Everybody welcomed him like he was a hero coming back," she said.

"Everybody liked Andy," she said. "He was a very smart kid, he was able to learn very fast. He had a very beautiful smile. He never fought with anybody. You could tease him and he had a good sense of humour -- he would smile all the time. He was a very pleasant person."

Still struggling with the recent deaths, family members declined to speak about the teens.

Meanwhile, the rest of the community is in a state of "unrestful peace," said Steven Kopak, the acting SAO and Andy's uncle.

"It's a very bad time we're going through," he said. "And yet we're happy that they've found the bodies. All we can do is pray for the parents now and pray for the family members."

RCMP Cpl. Liz Douglas echoed that sentiment.

"For the family, for the whole community now there's a bit of peace, especially for the families to know their children, sons, grandsons, are on the land," she said. But, she added, there is "sadness of course. And numbness."

During the search, the atmosphere in the community was "very sombre. It was very very very stressful for the people who were searching," said Kopak. "But what everybody did was everybody helped out with the search."

The missing teens triggered a search that involved the entire community in dragging the waters from boats, patrolling the shores by foot and on ATV, making food and in some cases crafting homemade hooks.

"I think everyone in Repulse was tired," said Solomon Malliki, who is on the hamlet's search and rescue committee.

As for some kind of return to normal, said Kopak, "it will definitely take forever."