The 7-year-old victim of the apparent Coney Island beach drowning was honored by his former youth football team Monday as they released white and lime-green balloons into an overcast sky in his memory.
Zachary Merdy, along with his younger siblings, 3-month-old Oliver and 4-year-old Liliana, died early Monday after they were found unresponsive along the shoreline before dawn. Authorities suspect the children’s mother, Erin Merdy, might be responsible for their deaths, according to police and law enforcement sources.
Members of the C.I.T.Y. Silverbacks football program learned about Zachary’s death at practice Monday. The team released more than a dozen balloons that included the jersey number Zachary used to wear.
As the balloons floated into the sky the group of youngsters exclaimed “Zachary, we love you” as they ran after them to subdued applause.
Silverbacks’ coach Allen McFarland, 34, told The Post that Zachary’s 30-year-old mom pulled him off the team in May.
Last season, coaches typically brought Zachary to practice, fed him dinner after games and dropped him off at home, McFarland said.
“We felt it would be a positive thing for him, to get him out of the house and involved,” McFarland said. “We practice four times a week for three hours a day. That would have been a good relief for the household.”
The exact cause of death was not determined in the three siblings’ deaths.
No charges have been filed against Erin Merdy, who was sent to NYU Langone Hospital late Monday morning for a psychiatric evaluation.
The mother was facing numerous struggles leading up to her kids’ deaths, including owing thousands in rent, fighting over child custody and dealing with mental health issues, The Post reported Monday.