Young father dies in Lake Michigan off of Whihala Beach

2014-06-17T14:18:00Z 2014-06-18T22:42:08Z Young father dies in Lake Michigan off of Whihala BeachLauri Harvey Keagle lauri.keagle@nwi.com, (219) 852-4311 nwitimes.com

HAMMOND | Geovany Joya-Alcazar was at his Hammond home Monday night when his mother called him in tears.

"She said, 'They can't find your brother,'" he said "I didn't know what she was talking about."

Joya-Alcazar, 20, is the older brother of Jose Alcazar, 18, who went missing Monday night in Lake Michigan after jumping off a fishing pier at Whihala Beach with friends in Whiting.

The older brother went to the lakefront and found the scene sobering.

"I saw an ambulance, a helicopter and boats all trying to find him, and I said, 'Whoa, this is really happening,'" Joya-Alcazar said.

Alcazar's body was recovered about 10:30 p.m. by an Indiana conservation officer diver, Indiana Department of Natural Resources representatives said.

Lake County coroner's office investigators said Alcazar was pronounced dead at 11:36 p.m. at 1561 Park Road in Whiting. The cause of death was ruled accidental drowning Tuesday afternoon.

Joya-Alcazar said his brother could not swim. 

Conservation officers said Alcazar and two friends went swimming in Lake Michigan in Whiting near the fishing pier and jumped from the pier into the water. The three friends were swimming about 250 feet from the shoreline when Alcazar began to struggle.

Witnesses said the teen fought to stay afloat before disappearing under the water.

Joya-Alcazar said he knows all of the dozen or so friends who were with his brother at the lakefront Monday night. The friends told him what happened when he arrived during the recovery mission.

"At first I was mad, like how could you leave him, but I understand now," he said.

The U.S. Coast Guard, Lake County Sheriff's Department Marine Unit and IDNR conservation officers were called to the scene. Conservation officers used Sonar and an underwater camera to locate Alcazar's body.

Officers recovered Alcazar's body about 47 feet from the fishing pier. 

Joya-Alcazar said his younger brother attended George Rogers Clark High School before dropping out to financially help their mother. Their mother raised seven children — now ranging in age from 6 to 20 — after their father abandoned the family, Joya-Alcazar said.

Joya-Alcazar dropped out of college to help his mother and took a job at a commercial bakery in Oak Forest. He brought his younger brother to work with him when he dropped out of high school.

Alcazar wanted to earn his general equivalency diploma and go to school to become a barber, his brother said.

Joya-Alcazar spoke from his mother's front porch in the 4700 block of Towle Avenue on Tuesday morning as Alcazar's 2-year-old son, Jaylin Gonzalez, played at his feet.

Paola Gonzalez, the child's mother, said Alcazar "was great, a great dad."

"He liked to play with Jaylin a lot and get ice cream with him," Gonzalez said. "He was a lovable person, loved everybody."

Alcazar's older brother said he liked to play sports and was a soccer fan.

"People used to say me and him looked alike, like twins," Joya-Alcazar said. "We used to be really competitive with each other, tried to be better than each other. It pushed us, though, in a good way to be better."

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