This week, a Lompoc family is looking for answers after the body of 14-year-old Alberto Cabrera Corona was discovered in the Santa Ynez River over the weekend.
They are also now trying to raise money to cover the boy's funeral expenses.
Since Alberto’s body was found, his family has been seeking community support through a GoFundMe page that has now surpassed $15,000 in donations. His loved ones say the show of support is a small silver lining to an otherwise heartbreaking situation, but they still have unanswered questions about his death.
“We were there when we found him. Me and all my kids, and of course his parents, his siblings, his tias, we were there,” said Erica Diaz, a close family friend of the Cabrera Corona family.
On Sunday, local authorities confirmed that two kayakers called in reports of a body that was discovered in the Santa Ynez River near Santa Lucia Canyon Road in Lompoc. Elizabeth Santa Cruz, Alberto’s older sister, says those two kayakers were her stepdad and uncle.
“They were in the kayaks and then the kayak flipped and that is when they found his body. They pulled him out of the water,” she told KSBY.
According to Lompoc Police detectives, their department and several other local agencies began searching for Alberto six days after the Cabrera Corona family reported him missing, leaving Alberto’s loved ones wondering why search efforts did not begin sooner.
“They could have found him faster. And when my stepdad found him, he was unrecognizable because of how long he had been in that water,” Santa Cruz said.
Now, with the costs of funeral services looming, Alberto’s loved ones and several of their family friends were hard at work Wednesday morning, selling enchiladas to help raise money for the expenses.
“It is sad that I won’t be able to see him how he was again,” said Angel Zuniga, a close friend and former classmate of Alberto. “But it is a good feeling being able to help his family out and lay him to rest.”
“He was a beautiful soul. He was a sweet boy. Imagine it being one of your kids. I just put myself in their shoes. It is heartbreaking,” Diaz said.
A car wash fundraiser will also be held this Saturday.
In the meantime, Diaz says she and others will continue supporting Alberto’s mother as she hopes to learn how her son died.
“We will find out what happened to him, and we will get justice for him, and that is our main goal for her, just to know that he is laid to rest and that we can get the justice that he deserves,” Diaz said.
Zuniga also says the recent news has taken its toll on students at Lompoc Valley Middle School where Alberto attended classes. He says counseling has been offered to students, as well as privacy rooms that they can use to help deal with the many emotions surrounding this difficult situation.
On Wednesday, Lompoc Police affirmed with KSBY that they still do not suspect foul play in the events that led up to Alberto Cabrera Corona’s death.