A body found on an island in the Los Angeles River in Los Feliz was officially identified Tuesday as that of 14-year-old Elias Rodriguez, who had been missing for more than a week.
With the body identified, his family established a GoFundMe page in hopes of raising money for funeral and other expenses.
“We the family of (Elias’ mother) Pahola Mascorro would like to extend our gratitude to everyone that has been asking to donate for expenses,” according to a statement posted on the page. “We felt after receiving confirmation, it would be appropriate to create this account. Please continue to keep our family prayer, as this has been very difficult on everyone.”
The website — http://www.gofundme.com/in-honor-of-our-angel-elias-eli — had raised more than $3,200 as of mid-afternoon Tuesday, with a goal of $10,000.
Rodriguez went missing on the afternoon of Feb. 17 after leaving Cesar Chavez Learning Academies in San Fernando during a powerful rainstorm, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
The teen had borrowed someone’s cellphone to call his mother at work before he headed to his grandmother’s house to wait for her, but she missed the call, police said.
Authorities sought public help to find him, and Los Angeles police were joined by the FBI in the search.
The body was found at 1:15 p.m. Saturday on the island near the Golden State Freeway and Los Feliz Boulevard.
According to the coroner’s office, Elias drowned, and his death was ruled accidental.
His family members held a news conference Tuesday at the spot where the boy presumably was swept away by a rushing water, and they thanked people who helped look for Elias and supported the family during the ordeal.
“During this time, when there is so much political strife in our country, we know that there is so much good in people and we want to continue that kind, caring spirit of love,” Elias’ aunt Jessenia Vega said, adding that the family is still seeking answers they may never get about what exactly happened to their loved one.
The family will hold a candlelight vigil for the boy at 7 p.m. Friday. They plan to light the path the boy likely took from Cesar Chavez Learning Academies before he went missing.