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California

Body of missing 14-year-old found in L.A. River after weeklong search

Pahola Mascorro
Pahola Mascorro, the mother of Elias Rodriguez, appears at a police news conference.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

The body of a 14-year-old boy who disappeared from San Fernando during a powerful storm earlier this month has been found on an island in the Los Angeles River, authorities said. 

The body of Elias Rodriguez was recovered about 1:15 p.m. Saturday along a stretch of the river in Los Feliz, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.  

Victoria White, a senior police representative at the LAPD’s Mission Division, said an unknown person reported seeing a body on the island and police and fire personnel subsequently responded.

White said the Sylmar boy may have been swept away by the Pacoima Wash that feeds into the L.A. River.

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“There is nothing more painful than the loss of a child, and the thoughts and prayers of all Angelenos are with the loved ones of Elias Rodriguez,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement released Sunday morning. “Words cannot capture the agony that Elias’ grieving family has felt since his disappearance.”

Elias was reported missing Feb. 17, when he failed to return home after school.

At a news conference Saturday night, police said the L.A. River was flowing at 70 mph at the time of the storm and that the body appeared badly battered. That means it could take some time for the coroner to make an official identification.

Elias’ distraught family members went to the scene of the discovery.

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The Los Angeles River is often bone dry, but during rains, it can become dangerous.

In 1992, the infamous televised drowning of 15-year-old Adam Bischoff in the rain-swollen river prompted efforts to improve swift-water rescues in Los Angeles.

Last year, two teenage boys drowned in a section of the river near Highland Park. In 2006, a 14-year-old boy drowned after falling into the river while fishing with his friends in Glassell Park.