The parents of Elias Rodriguez, the 14-year-old boy who went missing nearly two weeks ago when a massive storm hit the area, received closure Tuesday as the body found in the Los Angeles River over the weekend was confirmed to be their son.
Family, friends and community members who hoped and prayed Elias, who was last seen on Feb. 17, would be found gathered Tuesday to pay their respects, light candles and mourn the teenager's passing.
"He was always helping people and was just a really kind-hearted person, so it just hurt really bad to know he passed," classmate Jennifer Guzman said.
On Saturday a body was found lying face down on a small island by a volunteer who was searching the L.A. River near the 5 Freeway in Los Feliz. The L.A. County coroner’s office confirmed Tuesday, three days after the grim discovery was made, that the body was Elias.
His death was ruled an accidental drowning.
"We did bring Eli home, not the way we wanted to, but he's home,"Rodriguez's aunt, Beronica Flores, told KTLA." His parents will have closure and the family will too."
During the time period that Elias was missing, his family, friends, community members and law-enforcement agencies tirelessly searched for him.
Police believe Elias fell into the Pacoima Wash, which family members say he sometimes used as a shortcut, while walking to his grandmother's house after leaving his school in San Fernando on the day he disappeared.
The teenager's body likely traveled a distance of more than 20 miles from the area where he was last seen, with currents in the water at times reaching up to 70 mph.
"We never stopped looking for him and we did everything we could," Flores said.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for the teen’s family.
A vigil to remember Elias is scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m. from the the Cesar E. Chavez Learning Academies to the wash.