HOLLAND, Mich. (May 22, 2014) – A memorial was held for a 17-year-old from West Ottawa High School at the same pier where he lost his life less than 24 hours prior.
Dive team members were able to recover Jose Moreno two hours after he went missing in Lake Michigan after jumping off the pier at Holland State Park.
Friends, family and Moreno’s fellow soccer players spent hours Thursday at the edge of the pier. There was little said at the gathering but some did leave messages written in marker on the towers at the end of the channel.
Some of the people in attendance spoke to us about the Rover Soccer Team that Moreno had been a part of since his childhood.
“It’s more than a team, it’s a family,” said Gilberto Tinoco.
Moreno wore jersey number ’10’ and played midfield.
“He was a great soccer player,” said fellow teammate Brian Salinas.
“With his skills in soccer he could have gone far,” Tinoco said.
As a sign of respect, soccer balls and jerseys were signed by those who knew and loved the West Ottawa senior. Some of the balls were then kicked into the lake.
Tinoco chose to hold onto his signed ball, “The soccer ball, it’s like, all the people it’s representing… they care about him.”
Balloons were released at the same place where dive team members recovered Moreno. He was found 20-30 feet below the surface of the water.
According to the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department, Moreno was with a friend when he jumped off the pier into the water and began to struggle. The friend tried to throw him a life ring but Moreno went under.
“He was funny,” said Tinoco choosing to remember the good times spent with his friend. “He always had a smile on his face. He was a happy person.”
At about the same time the crowd started gathering at the pier there was also a water rescue training exercise taking place. We were told it was just a coincidence that it was scheduled the day after the water rescue attempt of Moreno.
When the people involved in the exercise found out about the memorial, the training was cut short out of respect.