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'I know he’s in a better place': Mom shares emotional tribute days after missing son found dead in Lake Erie

'I wasn’t even given the chance to say goodbye.'

CLEVELAND — "He was a very brave and young, kind-hearted man. He was very loved by a lot of people and he cared for a lot. His family as his number one priority."

Those are the words of Evelyn Orona, who was surrounded by family to share memories of her 20-year-old son, Nathan, just days after his body was found in Lake Erie.

"He always liked to share and spend time with his family," she continued. "That was his thing to do. He was loved by a lot of people and I miss him dearly. I will always remember him. I’m in disbelief, but I know he’s in a better place."

It’s been an emotional time for Evelyn since Nathan, along with 18-year-old Alaina "Alice" Camacho, went missing on Feb. 1 after leaving the Sheffield Estates apartment complex in Camacho’s gold Honda Accord.

"I knew in my heart that something was wrong," Evelyn said. "That was the worst part, not knowing. Every day, especially when the night would fall, that’s when I would basically break down."

Credit: Texas EquuSearch
Nathan Orono and Alaina "Alice" Camacho.

Then, earlier this week, both of their bodies were found in Lake Erie along with the vehicle. The discovery was made after a fisherman called 911 to report what appeared to be a body floating near the Hot Waters boat launch in Lorain County.

"I wasn’t even given the chance to say goodbye," she said.

"I'm going to miss his presence," Waleska Soto, Nathan's aunt added. "I'm going to miss his smile. I'm going to miss his dance moves."

Authorities are investigating the situation to determine what happened, and changes at the pier where the vehicle went into lake are being discussed. Lorain Mayor Jack Bradley says they're exploring possible signage, barriers and potentially closing off the pier each day 30 minutes before sunset. There's a meeting planned with multiple groups on Monday to come up with short-term and potentially long-term solutions.

"That’s a spot where a lot of young kids, unfortunately, hang out," Orona said, "so they weren't the first and they won't be the last."

As Evelyn continues to try and heal this tragic wound, she’s offering support for anyone else out there that may be looking for a child

"Continue the search," she said. "Don't give up, don't give in, stick with your gut feeling and fight.'

The Orona family ended the day thanking everyone that's called to offer condolences and helped in searching over these past few months. They also wanted to give appreciation for the Cleveland Family Center for Missing Children and Adults for their assistance in this troubling time.

"I just want them to rest in peace," Evelyn said of Nathan and Alice.

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Editor's note: Video in the player above was originally published on March 30, 2021.

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