Families and strangers unite after drownings at Lorain beach

LORAIN, Ohio – Two Lorain families come together in the wake of a tragedy. On Saturday night, friends and families of Isaiah Barnes and Jesus Del Valle Rodriguez held a joint vigil after the two young men drowned in a Lorain County subway park earlier in the week.

“We both lost someone we love, someone who meant something to us,” said Loretta Carr, mother-in-law 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 past a break wall, where water and terrain are unpredictable, and went underwater.

When he failed to resurface, 20-year-old Jesus stepped in and tried to save the teenager. It also sank and did not resurface.

“He didn’t need to go in the water. And then he lost his life trying to save my nephew,” said Joyce Cobb, Isaiah’s aunt.

Isaiah’s mother, Nikishia Barnes, added: “To me, he is a hero. He tried.”

Jesus’ family and friends wore shirts with his face and the word “hero” written on them at the vigil on Saturday.

“He helped everyone. He would try to help as many people as possible. He was stopping putting clothes on his back to putting clothes on someone else’s back,” his mother Yolanda Del Valle said.

Isaiah’s body was recovered by dive teams on Tuesday evening. The team found Jesus’ body the next morning.

Nikishia Barnes told News 5 she felt compelled to contact Jesus’ mother-in-law 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 on this thing. And we’re going to keep working on it,” Barnes said.

Families gathered Saturday evening for a barbecue, music, a balloon release and a candlelight vigil. Lots of shared memories of lost loved ones.

“He was funny, silly, smart in school, but silly,” Barnes said of his son.

His friend Anthony Mendez said, “If anyone needed help or if anyone needed someone to be there for them, Jesus would always be there. He would be the first to jump up and go.

Some said they found strength in shared grief and leaned on each other.

“These kids have a community to support them, a family,” Carr said. “Two families who did not know each other were brought together by a tragedy.”

The two families are raising funds to pay the funeral costs.

Services for Isaiah Barnes are managed by the Brown Robinson Funeral Home in Lorraine. Inquiries can be made at (440) 244-1831.

Jesus Del Valle Rodriguez is buried across the Richard J. Reidy Funeral Home in Lorraine. You can contact the funeral home at (440) 277-8164.

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Edward L. Robinett