LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A massive candlelight vigil — attended by about 2,500 people — was held Friday evening for 14-year-old Elias “Eli” Rodriguez.
The Sylmar teen called his mother during a major storm Feb. 17 and left a voicemail saying he was walking to his grandmother’s house.
He never arrived.
Mourners walked from Eli’s school, Cesar Chavez Academies, to the wash in Pacoima where it’s believe he entered the water. Rodriguez’ body was found Saturday in Los Feliz more than 20 miles away.
KCAL9’s Peter Daut was there where Rodriguez’s devastated friends and family tried to hold it together.
“Elias Rodriguez touched the heart of a whole community,” Pastor Rudy told the assembled crowd.
His aunt also spoke to the crowd and thanked many of the volunteers who helped search for Elias.
“Not only I made it my mission to find him, but a lot of you somehow connected with him,” said his aunt Jessenia Vega.
When he went missing, the family knew Elias would never leave his mother. She’s been battling cancer.
“But we will celebrate his life because he became everyone’s angel in the community,” Vega said. “I know you feel like he was yours.”
His grief-stricken mother led the procession from the vigil to the wash.
“He’s in heaven,” said Vega. “And he’s our angel, and he will forever be our angel.”
A funeral mass will be held for Elias at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Didacus Church in Sylmar. A burial will follow at San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Mission Hills.