LORAIN, Ohio — Two Lorain families are uniting in the wake of tragedy. Saturday night, the friends and families of Isaiah Barnes and Jesus Del Valle Rodriguez held a joint vigil after both young men drowned at a Lorain County Metro Park earlier in the week.
“We both lost somebody we love, somebody that meant something to us,” said Loretta Carr, the step-mother of Jesus Del Valle Rodriguez.
On Tuesday, May 31, investigators said 14-year-old Isaiah Barnes waded into Lake Erie at Lakeview Beach in Lorain. He made it beyond a break wall, where water and terrain are unpredictable, and went under water.
When he didn’t resurface, 20-year-old Jesus jumped in and attempted to save the teen. He also went under and did not resurface.
“He didn’t have to go in the water. And then he lost his life trying to save my nephew,” said Isaiah’s aunt Joyce Cobb.
Isaiah’s mother Nikishia Barnes added, “To me, he’s a hero. He tried.”
Jesus’ family and friends wore shirts with his face and the word ‘hero’ written on them to Saturday’s vigil.
“He helped everybody. He’d try to help as many people as he could. He’d stop putting clothes on his back to put clothes on somebody else’s back,” said his mother Yolanda Del Valle.
Isaiah’s body was recovered by dive teams on Tuesday evening. The team found Jesus’ body the following morning.
Nikishia Barnes told News 5 she felt compelled to reach out to Jesus’ stepmother online when she heard about the 20-year-old’s efforts to save her son.
“We’ve been on the phone, we’ve been working this thing out. And we’re going to keep working it out,” Barnes said.
The families gathered Saturday evening for a barbeque, music, balloon release and candlelight vigil. Many shared memories of the lost loved ones.
“He was funny, silly, smart in school, but silly,” Barnes said of her son.
Friend Anthony Mendez said, “If someone needed help or someone needed someone to be there for them, Jesus would always be there. He’d be the first one to jump up and go there.”
Some said they’re finding strength in the shared grief and leaning on one another.
“These kids have a community to back them up, a family,” said Carr. “Two families that did not know each other were brought together by a tragedy.”
Both families are raising money to pay for funeral expenses.
Services for Isaiah Barnes are being handled by the Brown-Robinson Funeral Home in Lorain. Inquiries can be made at (440) 244-1831.
Jesus Del Valle Rodriguez is being laid to rest through the Richard J. Reidy Funeral Home in Lorain. You can contact the funeral home at (440) 277-8164.
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