Pedestrian bridge to be constructed in honor of Elias Rodriguez, 14, who drowned in Pacoima Wash

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Friday, July 29, 2022
Bridge to be constructed in honor of boy who drowned in Pacoima Wash
A pedestrian bridge will be constructed in honor of Elias Rodriguez, a 14-year-old boy who drowned in the Pacoima Wash.

PACOIMA, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Assemblywoman Luz Rivas announced Thursday that $7.5 million has been secured for the city of San Fernando to construct a pedestrian bridge at the Pacoima Wash to connect existing pathways.

The bridge will be built in honor of Elias Rodriguez, a 14-year-old boy who drowned in 2017 while using the wash as a means to travel from school to home during a rainstorm.

"What happened to my brother five-and-half years ago was such a tragedy and I hope that this will ensure that something like that will never happen again," Elias' sister said at a news conference announcing the funding for the project.

"We don't ever want that to happen to anyone ever again," said Rivas, who has spearheaded the effort as a much-needed investment in the community and one that will help revitalize the area.

"I've been fighting for this project," Rivas said. "I'm happy to announce that I secured $7.5 million from the California state budget for this project. The Pacoima Wash -- those of us who grew up here know a lot about the wash. We drive by it, we see it but we've never thought about how this could be a recreation area, too."

Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner officials confirmed Tuesday a body recovered in the L.A. River on Saturday is 14-year-old Elias Rodriguez, who was reported missing Feb. 17.

"This project means a lot to my family and I," Elias' sister said. "And I can't wait for it to become a functional area for the public to enjoy."

The Sylmar boy went missing while walking to his grandmother's home after school in San Fernando during a powerful rainstorm on Feb. 17, 2017. His route included crossing the Pacoima Wash, which leads to the area where a volunteer searcher found the boy's body 18 miles downriver more than a week after he disappeared.

"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 at the time. "Words cannot capture the agony that Elias' grieving family has felt since his disappearance."

The water running through the channel where Elias was found may seem harmless to many but fire officials said it's dangerous, even for the most experienced swimmers.

"The probability of stepping into that water and getting swept away is pretty much 100 percent," LAFD Capt. Tom Henzgen said in 2017.

A groundbreaking date for the bridge construction has not yet been announced.