Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Michelle King released a statement following the news that the body found in the LA River on Feb. 25 was Elias Rodriguez.
“On behalf of the entire L.A. Unified family, I extend our deepest condolences to Elias’ family and friends, and to the César E. Chávez Learning Academies community. His death is a loss to all of us,” the statement said.
King said since Elias’ disappearance, the district has provided the school with additional support, including counselors and school police.
“These resources will remain available at the campus to assist students and staff during this difficult time,” the statement said.
Elias, 14, attended the San Fernando Academy of Scientific Exploration or ASE, one of the four independent high schools at the Chavez Learning Academies.
“Eli” has been described as a “nice, good kid” who, like so many others his age, enjoyed playing video games and skateboarding.
The news has hit the tightly knit Northeast Valley community hard. A large effort was made by residents to post flyers and to organize neighborhood searches.
Elias went missing after school on Friday, Feb. 17, during a horrific storm. In the week following his disappearance, the rain stopped and started again, which impacted the search.
Authorities said the Pacoima Wash, which connects to the L.A. River, was moving at 70 miles per hour on the day that he went missing.
His body, found in the L.A. River near Los Feliz Boulevard, was exposed to very harsh weather conditions and required a coroner’s examination to determine that the body was his.
Elias’ family had been waiting for the coroner’s office to identify the body and now has to turn their attention from their search for him toward the difficult task of making funeral arrangements.
Friends close to Elias’ parents have set up Gofundme accounts.
“We know that Pahola,” — Elias’ mother — “would not ask for help. She hasn’t had it easy, she’s been fighting cancer. Now she has even a bigger blow,” a co-worker said.
“She said she would take all the cancer in the world if only she could have her son back.”