Family, Friends Hold Car Wash Fundraiser for 6th Grader Who Drowned in the Merced River

STOCKTON -- Family, friends and classmates came together at San Joaquin Elementary to turn a tragedy into a community show of support for a family in need.

Lesley Jaimes says her 11-year-old, brother, Jayden Jaimes, died last Sunday trying to swim across the Merced River with family, in Mariposa County.

"Right away my parents and me we jumped into the water and started doing CPR and everything," Lesley Jaimes said.

He was rushed to the hospital but he later died.

Lesly Jaimes said there's now a void in her family that can never be filled.

"We go to our house and see an empty room. All of his stuff is there," Lesly Jaimes said. "We get in the car and all the seats aren't full."

The sixth grader's death shocked students and staff at San Joaquin Elementary School.

Just three weeks into the new school year, his teacher Sofiyan Alastra said Jayden left a mark on her and other students, so they put together the car wash fundraiser.

"Jayden is loved by this community, by his classmates, by the school, by the staff, by everybody," Alastra said.

"It's not surprising but it's overwhelming that he impacted so many people's lives," Lesly Jaimes said.

More than a hundred cars came through; some people not just donating money but offering words of encouragement or sharing memories of Jayden with family.

"He would want to be remembered for - and we want him to be remembered for - the person that he was. Not this terrible accident that happened," Lesly Jaimes said.

The family tells FOX40 they're thankful the community came together for Jayden who will forever be missed.

"When we look back and think about it, it means a lot that were all there not necessarily to see that but to be with him on his last day," Lesley Jaimes said.

All the proceeds from the fundraiser will go to cover Jayden's funeral expenses.

If you would like to help, the family has also set up a GOFUNDME.

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