NEW MILFORD — A memorial service will be held Saturday for the 19-year-old who drowned in Bantam Lake last month.
A mass of Christian burial will be held for Leonel Salvador at 2 p.m. Saturday at St. Francis Xavier Church, on Rt. 109 in New Milford. Only invited guests and relatives will gather at the Lillis Funeral Home beforehand to pray.
Salvador died the afternoon of June 30 — three days shy of his 20th birthday.
Police, firefighters and the Goshen dive team responded to the area of Point Folly in the Litchfield County town of Bantam around 3:30 p.m. after Salvador went underwater and didn’t come back up.
“Goshen Dive Team members were able to locate the victim approximately 50 yards from shore. Life saving efforts were conducted by emergency personnel at the scene,” Department of Energy and Environmental Protection spokesman Lee Sawyer said in a statement.
Salvador was transported to Charlotte Hungerford Hospital, where he was pronounced deceased at approximately 5 p.m.
Salvador’s mother, Elsa Salvador, started a GoFundMe to help raise money for her son’s funeral costs.
“Although your not physically here with us, you will forever live in our hearts and minds,” a woman named Angela Uribe wrote on the GoFundMe page. “I cherish all the beautiful moments spent together. Thank you for always being a sweet young man.”
Salvador’s girlfriend, Elizabeth Reinhardt, also started a GoFundMe to help raise money for funeral expenses.
According to Reinhardt, Salvador was “the most responsible, handsome and caring family man [she had] ever known.”
Salvador had been fishing on the lake with his family the day he died, according to Reinhardt.
“Leonel loved to fish,” she wrote. “He took a break from fishing to try to swim to a ski launch only about 50 meters away. He went under due to a large set of waves caused by passing boats.”
Reinhardt said she and a friend “tried to search for him but couldn’t see anything.”
“He went under the water just 10 feet away from the ramp and it took paramedics almost [one] hour to find his body while his family stood on the bank and was instructed to not go back in the water by rescue personnel as they searched,” she wrote.
Salvador’s Facebook page lists him as attending New Milford High School from 2014 to 2019 and a Leonel Salvador was recently presented an award for English, journalism at the New Milford Adult Education graduation last month.
This is the second New Milford teen to have drowned this season. Joshua DaSilva drowned at Candlewood Lake in May.
This story has been updated with the correct service information. It incorrectly stated there was a memorial service at the funeral home.