LA VERNE (CBSLA.com) — A vigil and prayer service was held Sunday evening in honor of the 18-year-old Pomona teen who presumably drowned Saturday while on a church youth group trip to Washington state.
Friends said Paul Alimoren was with seven friends in Aberdeen when they got caught in a rip current. Five were able to make it back to shore relatively easily. Two of the group had to be treated by paramedics for exhaustion and for possibly ingesting sea water.
Alimoren helped two of his friends swim back to shore before he also got swept out further. He was last seen about 8:30 p.m. about a half mile south from there he and his friends entered the water.
Officials searched the water for hours — including using a helicopter — but Alimoren was never found.
As of Sunday, Alimoren’s body has not been recovered.
KCAL9’s Bobby Kaple attended the vigil — held at the Lighthouse Baptist Church in La Verne — and spoke to Alimoren’s friends and family as well as a youth pastor who knew him well.
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“You get to a place where you think you are done with tears, and you’re not,” said Pastor Jay Nepomuceno.
He was leading the group on the trip.
“They were overwhelmed by a one wave that brought all of them down,” Nepomuceno told Kaple. “Two of the boys initially started screaming for help.”
Paul’s brother Philip says the family is devastated.
“My mom, she couldn’t even talk. She was just weeping,” said Philip.
He knows his brother =- a Cal State Fullerton accounting major on a full-ride scholarship — died a hero.
“When they got caught by the rip tide, my brother went in after them to save his best friend,” said Philip.
Sunday night, friends and family recalled the young man’s passion for Bible study, sense of humor and his infectious laugh.
“He did everything,” his brother recalls. “He was very athletic. He led our team to a couple of championships in basketball. He was really good in football, too.”
The pastor said Paul was a great kid on or off any field or court.
“He was an incredible leader,” says Nepomuceno, “he was really one of the best teenagers I’ve ever worked with. He was very talented musically, athletically — but humble as well. He was just a good, Christian young man.”