san fernando valley

Elias Rodriguez Drowned in the Pacoima Wash. His Family Has Been Fighting for Safer Crossing Ever Since

The family, including his late mother, had been trying to make a difference, making the Wash safer since his tragic death. That finally happened.

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It's been more than five years since a San Fernando teenager drowned while trying to cross the Pacoima Wash on his way home from school. His family has been fighting ever since for a safer crossing.

"As a community, we mourn the tragic death of Elias Rodriguez who unfortunately was caught in the Pacoima Wash while trying to get home from school," said Mary Mendoza, the mayor of San Fernando.

It was winter of 2017 when 14-year-old Elias Rodriguez went missing. Several days later, his body was found in the LA River. It's believed he was swept away by rushing storm water and drowned while crossing the Pacoima Wash which divides Pacoima and San Fernando.

"He was such a good boy so for him to not be here, it’s still something I’m dealing with, grieving," Destiny Palafos, the sister of Elias, said.

After his death, their mother, Pahola Mascorro fought and prayed for safety improvements along the Pacoima Wash. Mascorro lost her own battle with cancer two years after her son’s death, but today her fight for a safer crossing was won.

"A pedestrian bridge will be constructed over the Pacoima Wash to connect existing bike and walking paths and to revitalize the Pacoima Wash Natural Park," said California Assembly Member Luz Rivas.

Rivas secured $7.5 million in state funding for the pedestrian bridge and neighboring park improvements.

"What happened to my brother 5 1/2 years ago was such a tragedy, and I hope this ensures something like that will never happen again. This project means a lot to my family," Palafos said.

Thousands showed up to a candlelight vigil for 14-year-old Elias Rodriguez, who was swept away and killed in last month's torrential storm. Kathy Vara reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Friday, March 3, 2017.

Every year on the anniversary of his death, his family comes to say a prayer and to lay flowers in the Wash but for his sister, it’s simply too difficult to be here.

"For me I don’t have very good memories here, so it’s not somewhere I choose to spend his anniversary," she said.

But she is grateful this location will soon become a place for the public to gather, exercise, and safely cross.

"It’s some thing my mom had wanted done. Unfortunately she’s not here to see it happen but I’m still glad that it’s happening for the safety of the other students that may come across this area," she said.

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