Family of teen who drowned in Tinker’s Creek: ‘He wanted to be a wrestler’

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BEDFORD, Ohio -- Relatives of a 15-year-old boy who drowned in the Cleveland Metroparks' Bedford Reservation spoke publicly for the first time Tuesday afternoon.

They are still trying to cope with how the tragedy could have happened.  Relatives of Jalen Wise say they have many questions about his death.  A spokeswoman for the Metroparks tells Fox 8 that their investigation is ongoing.

"He had an infectious smile and he was always humming a tune, teachers always told his mom, he's humming again today," recalls Jalen's grandmother, Janice Wise McGowan.

She says her entire family has been devastated ever since the teen's mother received a call around 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 1.

"The phone was passed to a Cleveland Metroparks ranger who informed Tiffany that Jalen had reportedly fallen into Tinker's Creek and was missing," said the teen's great-aunt, Marylnn Hall.

At the time, the Bedford fire chief told Fox 8 the boy slid off a rock formation in the Bedford Reservation that's similar to a water slide, and into the creek, before being swept away by the current.

"Jalen does not know how to swim; he is not a swimmer," said Hall.

On and off, crews searched the rough waters for nearly two days before two people on horseback discovered his body about a mile downstream.  The family thanked the first responders, rescuers and volunteers who showed up to help.

"This has been a very traumatic experience for the family, especially his mother," said his great-aunt.

Relatives say Jalen's mother was too distraught to face the cameras Tuesday afternoon.  They say it's even more difficult for her to face the fact they she'll never see her son again.

"This has been difficult for her, as mentioned.  She has seeked medical attention three times, well four times, including yesterday.  It's devastating for her and her children," said his grandmother.

Jalen was the youngest of four children.  His family says he loved martial arts, wrestling and basketball, and idolized LeBron James.

"He wanted to be on the wrestling team, and the date he passed away, he just told his mom, he said, 'You know, I can do anything,' and he said, 'I think I want to be a wrestler,'" said Hall.

The funeral service for Jalen Wise will be Wednesday July 19 at 11:00 a.m.  A wake will begin at 10:00 a.m.  It will be held at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church on Quincy Avenue in Cleveland.

A fund has been set up to help the family.  Donations can be made at any Huntington Bank.

**Additional coverage on this story, here**

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