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Family mourns Whiting drowning victim

A Whiting Lakefront Patrol officer blocks 117th St. entrance Whiting Park Whiting Ind. late Monday June 16 2014. A boy

A Whiting Lakefront Patrol officer blocks the 117th St. entrance to Whiting Park in Whiting, Ind., late Monday, June 16, 2014. A boy went missing in Lake Michigan earlier in the evening after jumping into the water from a pier at the park. Officers on the scene confirmed that the boy had been pulled from the water after an extensive search. | Guy Rhodes/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 19, 2014 6:18AM



HAMMOND — Geovany Joya pulled up to his family’s house Tuesday afternoon as his mother, Marisela Alcazar, finally slept after a long night of sadness.

Joya was bringing in bottled water and light groceries for the family, who were grieving the death of Alcazar’s second son and Joya’s younger brother, Jose Joya, who drowned in Lake Michigan during a swim Monday night with friends.

Geovany said they still hadn’t received a call from the Lake County coroner’s office, which confirmed Jose’s death in a news release Tuesday and scheduled an autopsy for Tuesday.

“We haven’t even seen the body yet to know if it’s even him,” Geovany said.

Jose Joya, 18, and several friends went swimming from the newly constructed pier at Whihala Beach in Whiting and were about 250 feet from the shore when Joya started struggling and went under, according to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

A spokesman for the Coast Guard’s Calumet Harbor Unit said it received a call about 8 p.m. that swimmers were having trouble, and members of the unit were able to rescue three others but couldn’t immediately find Joya. A diver found his body at 10:30 p.m., about 47 feet from the pier, according to the statement.

Geovany Joya, 20, said his brother was “a nice kid and not a bad kid,” one who would put his education on hold to help support their mother after their father left. The two didn’t get to hang out often because Geovany works long hours at an Oak Forest, Illinois, commercial bakery.

“I’d gotten Jose in there with me, and he worked two weeks before they let him go because work was slow,” Geovany said. “They told him they would call him back as they needed him.”

Most of all, Jose Joya liked spending time with his son, Jaylin Gonzalez, 2, of Hammond. His girlfriend, Paola Gonzalez, Jaylin’s mother, said Joya was “loving and caring of others.

“He was a good guy, always laughing and thinking positive about things,” Gonzalez said. “He loved playing with Jaylin and getting ice cream with him. And he just loved people.”

Geovany said the thing he will miss most of all is being a role model to his younger brother.

“He looked up to me,” he said.

Besides his brother, mother and son, Jose Joya is survived by another brother, Alexander Joya, and a sister, Jocelyn Joya. Funeral arrangements are pending.



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