Joseph had gone to Veterans Memorial Pool on Sunday with a group of friends. Her body was found Tuesday night, when youngsters jumped over a fence for a clandestine swim, police said.
Authorities said she had not been reported missing. Her friends said they thought she simply walked away from the pool. Her boyfriend’s calls went unreturned, but he thought she wanted to be alone.
After the discovery, Massachusetts officials closed 24 state-run deep-water swimming pools and suspended staff at the Fall River pool. Two Fall River inspectors also were placed on paid leave.
Joseph was a native of Haiti and had five children, though only an adult son lived with her, friends said. She worked as a housekeeper at a hotel in Newport, R.I. Her boyfriend said she could swim.
Her friend Veronica Reis, 21, said she had driven Joseph to the pool on Sunday.
At some point, Joseph and a 9-year-old boy in the group went into the pool from a slide, Reis said. After they splashed into the water, the boy noticed that Joseph hadn’t come back up, Reis said.
“He got up to the water and went to go tell the lifeguard,” said Reis, who talked the 9-year-old afterward. “The lifeguard said he was going to do a pool check. ... They never did that. They never did anything.”
Candela Matta, also at the pool with Joseph, said friends initially thought she simply had left. She said some of the friends waited for Joseph at the pool and a nearby park until 7 p.m. Sunday.
Investigators have spoken to the 9-year-old boy and the lifeguards who were on duty, said Gregg Miliote, a spokesman for Bristol County District Country Sam Sutter.
Dr. Lauren Smith, state public health medical director, said it’s unlikely that a body in the pool would create a health risk, because the chlorine in the water would keep it safe for human contact.
“I want to reassure the public (that) as disturbing as it is to you, there are no health risks associated with this,” she said.
Herbert Callwood, Joseph’s boyfriend of eight years, said that when his girlfriend didn’t return his calls earlier this week, he just thought she felt like being alone.
Callwood, 45, said he heard about Joseph’s death on the news.
“It’s too much bear. I just want to know what happened,” Callwood said. “And why did someone leave her like that?”