Vigil held for teen after body is found in Lake Erie

CONNEAUT, Ohio -- Police on Tuesday identified the body of the missing teen that drowned Sunday after swimming in Lake Erie near Conneaut Township Park.

The Ashtabula County Coroner identified the boy as Jakub Hess, 16, of Hiram, Ohio around 4:40 p.m. Tuesday.

Dozens of family members and friends gathered for a candle light vigil near where his body was recovered. 

Melissa Zirkle, who organized the vigil, said she knows all to well what Jakub's family is going through.

Her 13-year-old son drowned in Lake Erie three years ago.

“Six other kids he was with, and us adults, were on the beach, and it just happened very quickly. He got caught in a rip current,” Zirkle said.

Zirkle said she organized the vigil to help Jakub's family.

“They will be very numb for a while,” Zirkle said. “I know that they are in shock and it's hard to express emotions or explain emotions at this stage.”

"While there is no hope that Jakub will come back to us this side of heaven, the hope comes through the family and friends that are gathered and the support that they give one another,”  said Mark Winner, a pastor in Madison, Ohio, who led the crowd in prayer and song.

Officials said the boy drowned at Conneaut Township Park Beach, about 35 miles west of Erie, after swimming with his stepbrother on Sunday.

Ashtabula County Water Rescue, the Lake City Water Rescue Team and the Conneaut Fire Department assisted the Coast Guard in the search.
The boy's mother told Action News on Monday that the boy and his stepbrother were swimming alone for the first time at Conneaut Township Park Beach, which was not guarded.

There was a swimming advisory in place at the beach at the time of the incident.


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