Grieving family of 3-year-old found dead in pond receives outpour of support

June 25, 2019 04:12 AM

ONTARIO, N.Y. (WHEC) -- The grieving family of a little girl found dead in a Wayne County pond received an outpour of support from the community Monday night when relatives were joined by the community in a vigil near the scene of her death.

"We just want them to see that there is an entire community that is standing behind them and we're all feeling this pain together," declared Jacqueline Caraballo with the Remnant of Faith Church as a large group formed a prayer circle and sang the hymn "Levanto Mis Manos" (I Lift my hands)."

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Three-year-old Zyvette Marquez-Rivera disappeared Sunday evening as her family picnicked in Casey Park in the Town of Ontario. After an intense search by state troopers, Wayne County deputies, local firefighters, and dive teams, her body was discovered late Sunday night in the murky water of the park's pond.

Monday's vigil, which brought together dozens of people, was marked by tears, audible sobbing, hushed conversations and long periods of silence as the child's family remembered her.

"Joyful happy smiling, always playing," described Sol Santiago, a cousin.  "Very sweet.  A true angel."

The family's response to the three-year-old's death brought some relatives rushing to town from as far as Boston while people who live in the area made a point of being there too.  

"This water has always scared me and I have a young grandchild.  It's terrible," exclaimed Theresa Mayer who also said she wanted to show support for a family she feared might also face criticism over a tragedy. "Things happen in a split second. It could happen to anyone." 

"It's very heartwarming to know that not only the family cares but the community as well," said Santiago.

William Riddell, Ontario's Parks and Recreation Department director, came out for the vigil too, standing silently.

Riddel said nothing like what happened to Zyvette Marquez-Rivera had happened at Casey Park in the 22 years he'd been with the department. He declined to say anything further while the case is under investigation but did answer questions at a meeting of the Ontario Town Board Monday night. 

The Monroe County medical examiner planned an autopsy on the toddler's body as the investigation of her death continues.

Friends and neighbors will host another vigil for the little girl on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. at the Ontario Fireman's Field.

Funeral arrangements for her are still pending as of Monday night.


Charles Molineaux

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