MANSFIELD (CBS11) – An anxious wait ends in heartache for a Mansfield family. A body discovered along a South Padre beach has been identified as 16-year-old Carlos Perez.
He was on a school-sponsored trip to participate in a state SkillsUSA competition.
Extra counselors were made available at Mansfield’s Lake Ridge High, where students were in a somber mood even before the identity was confirmed.
“I can’t imagine losing a friend like that,” said Senior Deja Chester, who added that the freshman’s soccer team and coach appeared especially subdued.
A Coast Guard spokesperson says someone on sea turtle patrol found the body. It was discovered about 25 miles south of the pier where Perez vanished in chest high water.
Mansfield parents Trisa and Brett Harwell say their hearts hurt for the teen’s family.
They also hope the tragedy prompts a review of how the district defines ‘adult supervision’ on school sponsored trips.
“Will they be with them at all times?” asks Brett Harwell, “and before allowing students to do anything, there has to be permission.”
The Harwells have raised four sons and say having mom, Trisa along on field trips helped to ease their concerns. But, when that’s not possible, he encourages parents to reinforce their own expectations, especially around water.
“Our rules are first,” says Brett, “even if a chaperone were to allow certain things… we expect our children to obey our rules.”
Still, they acknowledge that freedom can be tempting.
“You never say what they won’t do,” advises Trisa Harwell. “You know the rules you set for them and the values you’ve involved. But, never say what they won’t do.”
A memorial mass for Perez gets under at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday at Mansfield’s St. Jude Catholic Church.
A GoFundMe effort has been launched to help the family with expenses.
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