Friends remember Parma teen who drowned

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PARMA, OH  - One day after a Parma teenager drowned, a tribute near the lake where it happened continued to grow. A steady stream of friends and strangers met at Parma's Veterans Memorial Park to pay their respects to Sergey Pivovarnik, Jr., 16.

Sergey Pivovarnik, Jr.

Grief counselors returned to Parma Senior High School, which Pivovarnik attended, Tuesday morning. Instead of practice, his football teammates met to talk about his sudden death.

“I really just wanted to come and celebrate his life because he's such a great kid,” said friend Haley Miller, who added stuffed animals to the memorial.

Fire officials said despite 'no swimming' signs, Pivovarnik jumped in the water after morning football practice Monday. Investigators said he struggled before going under in the middle, where depths reach twelve feet. Pivovarnik’s brother told Fox 8’s Matt Wright that the victim did not know how to swim and that his friends dared him to swim halfway across the lake.

“He was just a good kid,” friend Vitaliy Stlykevich said. “He always steered you away from bad ideas, but when someone challenged him he never said no.”

Stlykevich was among the mourners who gathered at the memorial Tuesday, gathering up footballs, flowers and other items ahead of afternoon storms. Even those who didn’t know the teen stopped to pay respects and write messages on hand-drawn posters.

“It just makes me think about my grandchildren. It could've been my grandson in there,” said Margie Phillips, who lives in Parma and walks in the park daily. “It’s just so heartbreaking.”

Online memorials sprang up as the community turned to social media to remember Pivovarnik; Sergey's name was trending on Twitter in Cleveland Monday. Manny Yousef, of Parma, who did not know Pivovarnik well, said he was touched by the online posts and decided to make a tribute page on Twitter.

“I figured if I made a Twitter page where a lot of people could post all about him in one place it would help people cope with their pain,” he said.

Visitation hours will take place Thursday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Yurch Funeral Home in Parma to be followed by a prayer service, and a funeral service is set for 10 a.m. Friday at the funeral home.

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