Lake County Coroner Dr. Howard Cooper has confirmed that the body recovered from Lake Michigan Thursday morning is missing 16-year-old Matthew Garcia.
Lake County Sheriff Sgt. Ari Briskman said on Thursday that sheriff’s deputies were called to the area of East Madison Street and South Harbor Place at the harbor in Waukegan for a report of a human body that had been located near a pier.
Police located the body of a male subject on a rocky area in the pier, Briskman said, adding that sheriff’s detectives and the Lake County Coroner’s Office were called to the scene.
The body was transported to the Lake County Coroner’s Office where officials identified Garcia through dental records. Lake County Coroner Dr. Howard Cooper confirmed Monday evening that Garcia died by drowning.
Matthew “Mateo” Garcia, 16, of Grayslake, went missing on January 18 after jumping into Lake Michigan near Waukegan to try and save his friend who slipped in.
The teen who originally slipped into the water was rescued but Garcia was never located. Since January, divers and search teams were unable to locate Garcia because of weather conditions hampering their search efforts.
“We have been in close contact with Matthew’s family and our deepest condolences go out to them during this difficult time. This is truly an awful tragedy,” Cooper said.
“It is with sorrow and joy that we are able to announce that our beloved Matthew’s body has been recovered. Our faith gives us comfort knowing that Matthew is in a better place,” Garcia’s mother, Susan Medina said.
“We would like to thank the Waukegan Fire Department, Waukegan Police and Sheriff Officers for their diligent work and the support they provided during this difficult time,” Medina added.
The family of the boy created a scholarship in Garcia’s name and over $17,000 has been raised so far through a GoFundMe campaign.