Teen's family searches for answers after Tinker's Creek drowning

GARFIELD HEIGHTS, OH (WOIO) - The family of a 15-year-old found dead in Tinker's Creek is searching for answers more than a week after the boy's drowning.

"He had an infectious smile and he was always humming a tune," said Jalen Wise's grandmother, Janice Wise McGowan.

Jalen's family describes him as a happy teen with big dreams. Investigators said the boy died last week in Tinker's Creek in the Bedford Metroparks Reservation.

"On the day he passed away he told his mom, 'I can do anything.' He said, 'I want to be a wrestler,'" said the teen's great aunt Marylnn Hall.

However, his goals were cut short and his loved ones want to know why. The day he died, his mom thought he went to the park to play basketball. She was surprised when she found out her son supposedly fell into the water and never came out.

The teen's great aunt said the family is suspicious because Jalen couldn't swim.

"Jalen does not know how to swim. He is not a swimmer. He has such a fear of overhead water, he takes baths instead of showers," Hall said.

The family said Jalen was at Tinker's Creek with two other teens that his mom didn't want him hanging around.

Loved ones have been told multiple stories about what happened to Jalen the day he died. They were told Jalen drowned while swimming, that he slipped while walking on rocks, and that Jalen was pushed into the water.

"These differing accounts only add to the anguish that the family feels. To hold out hope for three days when the search for Jalen went from a rescue to a recovery mission," Hall said.

What also makes Jalen's family worry, is how Jalen's body was found.

"It was noted that Jalen had a swollen eye, dried blood in each nostril and bruising on the mouth. Was there some sort of physical confrontation between Jalen and others? There's still so many, so many, unanswered questions that we are seeking answers to," Hall said.

The Cleveland Metroparks is trying to get those answers for the family. They sent Cleveland 19 News a statement Tuesday that said:

"Our thoughts are with the family during this difficult time. The investigation is in process and ongoing."

Jalen's funeral is scheduled for Wednesday, July 19 Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, 8712 Quincy Ave. The funeral will be at 10 a.m. and the wake will follow at 11 a.m.

A donation fund is set up in Jalen's name at any Huntington Bank.

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