BEDFORD - The family of a 15-year-old boy is seeking answers after he drowned in Tinker's Creek earlier this month.
Jalen Wise, 15, of Garfield Heights, slid into the creek July 1. His body was found about a mile downstream two days later by a couple on horseback.
Family members say they've been working with Metroparks investigators, who are still reviewing the incident.
They also say Jalen's mother was under the impression he was going to go play basketball when she last saw him. Now, they have questions about a group of other children Jalen may have joined to go swimming.
Jalen's mother says her son was grounded at the time and was forbidden to hang out with that group of children. She also says she'd spoken to one of the children's mothers to advise her that Jalen was not allowed to be with them and to send him home.
When Jalen's mother arrived at the park upon receiving word of his drowning, she says she was told by the other mother that Jalen had been at her house with a group of boys and an unidentified adult male took them to the park to swim.
Relatives also say Jalen did not know how to swim, so they doubt he would have agreed to go swimming.
The family also says there are conflicting accounts of Jalen's drowning. Some claim Jalen was swimming when he went underwater. Others say he slipped into the water, while someone else claims he was pushed.
But there are witnesses. Marie Buildt and Kenny Mossor say they saw everything that day. They were enjoying Tinker’s Creek with their kids who weren’t allowed in the rushing water.
“That day it was just so, so crazy. It was just so rough,” said Buildt.
Buildt says she watched one of Jalen’s friends jump in. He was okay. Then, she saw the other kids crowd around Jalen.
“He went in and I remember when he went in he screamed. So I don’t know if he jumped or if he was pushed, but he did, he let out a scream,” she said.
The intense stream sucked Jalen into a tunnel. Mossor, who knows the area, ran toward him onto the bridge above.
“I just heard him yelling and tried to go to where he was, then just lost where he was,” said Mossor.
Eventually the yelling stopped. Mossor never saw Jalen exit the tunnel. The couple hopes their story reveals answers to Jalen’s family. The tragedy is one they won’t forget witnessing.
“I lay awake at night wishing I could have done more,” said Buildt.
Funeral services for Jalen will take place July 19 at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church.
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