2004-10-29 / Front Page

Church Worker Drowns Off Breezy Point

A 32-year-old church organist who lived and worked at St. Genevieve in Roxbury was found dead in Jamaica Bay last week after his morning routine apparently went horribly wrong, sources said.

The NYPD Harbor Patrol found the body of Vianney Hou, an intern at St. Genevieve Church on Beach 178 Street in Roxbury, floating near buoy 12 at about 1:30 p.m. last Friday, police said. Hou, who had been with St. Genevieve for the past three years, was wearing only a Virgin Mary pendant around his neck, according to police.

Sources told The Wave that Hou would wake early every morning for a 6:30 a.m. jog along the shoreline of the bay after which he would wade into the water, but not swim. Hou’s friends and co-workers at St. Genevieve, where he worked for the past three years, suspect that he waded into the water and was overtaken by the elevated surf or the tidal currents, said a woman, who asked to be identified only as the church secretary.

“He never would have been able to handle that surf,” the secretary said. “He was not a good swimmer.”

The staff at Our Lady of Perpetual Health in Brooklyn, where he also played the organ, was concerned when Hou didn’t show up for work Friday morning and called St. Genevieve on Saturday.

Staff at St. Genevieve suspected something was afoul and reported Hou missing when they could only find his car in their parking lot, said the secretary. Police quickly linked Friday’s grim discovery with the missing person report and confirmed their suspicion using photographs.

The secretary used the words lovely, talented and helpful to describe Hou, who she said shared his abilities with the parish choir. “He had everything going for him,” she said.

The Chief Medical Examiner’s office had not officially ruled Hou’s death a drowning when The Wave went to press, but a police source said that was the likely determination.

Hou’s brother and sister came to New York from Arizona and California this week, but his parents remained in their native China. Funeral arrangements were not made public.

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