News Article Details

Community pays respects to Jake Wilson

Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier - 10/8/2018

Oct. 08--LA PORTE CITY -- The community that searched and prayed for Jake Wilson when he disappeared in April gathered to pay their respects to the fallen teen Sunday.

Family, friends and even those who had never met the 16-year-old, who was autistic, packed Union High School, just a farm field away from Wolf Creek where he said he was going when he failed to return home.

A school busload of students and staff from Cedar Falls High, where Jake was a student, came for the memorial service.

Firefighters and law enforcement from several agencies, who had spent weeks in the search, were also in attendance.

"We spent a lot of hours and got to know the family pretty personally. We didn't know him, but we felt like we did. This just helps us bring closure to the whole four and a half months it was," said Jeff McFarland, La Porte's fire chief. "It's been a tough summer."

La Porte City's volunteer firefighters parked their engines at the school parking lot, with one engine and one ambulance near the Tama Street driveway in the event a hasty departure was needed for an emergency.

"We got two up there in case we got to leave in a hurry. We still got to respond. Even though most of us are going to be here today, we still got to answer the page," McFarland said.

Another agency lending an engine to Sunday's affair was the Dysart Fire Department. The department sent 15 members during the first day of the search, and they continued to send people on a daily basis in the weeks that followed.

"They called for help, and we came and helped them," said Cale Petersen, a Dysart firefighter. "We rounded up some guys, and whatever they needed, we did it, and it worked together pretty well."

"They would have done the same if the same thing happened in Dysart," Eric Schneider, another Dysart firefighter at the service.

Jake disappeared the night of April 7 after saying he wanted to walk to Wolf Creek, a few short blocks from his home, and would be right back. When he failed to return, La Porte police and firefighters and sheriff's deputies began searching the river.

The following morning, hundreds of resident showed up at the fire station to volunteer for the search, which also drew assistance from dozens of police and fire agencies.

Recreational kayakers found Jake's remains in Wolf Creek downstream from the railroad bridge in August. Police Chief Chris Brecher said a cause of death hasn't been determined. He said officials are planning to return to the creek when weather conditions are right to resume the search for more of the remains.


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