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‘Full of joy’: Cedar Rapids pastor remembers boy killed in Adventureland tragedy, asks for prayers for his family

Published: Jul. 7, 2021 at 12:41 AM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A Cedar Rapids church, school district, and family are devastated over the loss of an 11-year-old boy.

Michael Jaramillo was killed after an accident Saturday on the Raging River ride at Adventureland. His family’s tube overturned, and they were all trapped underwater. The family, who lives in the Cedar Rapids area, was visiting the park in Altoona for the first time ever to celebrate the 16th birthday of Michael’s brother David, who is now in a medically induced coma.

Christian Shields, the senior pastor at Christian Life Church in Cedar Rapids, described Michael as “a gentle young man” who loved pugs, video games, and, especially in the last several months, his service at church.

“Michael was a wonderful young man, full of joy, laughter, smiles, hugs, jokes,” Shields said. “I never heard a negative thing come out of his mouth.”

Shields said he has gotten to know the Jaramillo family well over the last year-and-a-half since they joined the church. He said they are regulars at the weekly service, unable to recall a time they missed a Sunday, and Michael loved to help in any way he could, even when he wasn’t asked.

“Our church is doing a fundraiser to buy a new building, and we worked with the Kernels Stadium to do a fundraiser with them where we clean up after games, and we signed up for 12 days, and Michael came up to me, and he said, ‘Pastor, I want to be there every single night,’ and he was,” Shields said.

Michael was about to enter sixth grade at Boulder Peak Intermediate School in the Linn-Mar Community School District.

“Our thoughts are with Michael and his family during this difficult time,” Linn-Mar Superintendent Shannon Bisgard said in a statement.

Michael’s parents, David and Sabrina, told ABC News that their son’s heart “was bigger than him.”

“He’s so kind, and he is so helpful,” Sabrina said. “He always danced with me. That’s what I’m going to miss is dancing.”

“Everybody loved him,” David added. “He loved people. He was a good kid.”

The Jaramillos turned to their pastor Sunday, the day after their trip to Adventureland, while Michael was still alive but in intensive care.

“We were having our pre-service prayer, and Sabrina called me right as we were having our meeting, and all she could say was, ‘I think my baby’s going to die,’” Shields said.

Shields baptized Michael three months ago and is assured he is now in heaven. But his grief is still there.

“I’ve only experienced something like this once before, and it wasn’t for an 11-year-old,” Shields said.

Now, Shields is asking for prayers for the Jaramillos and their son David.

“He’s still fighting for his life, and I don’t want the Jaramillos to have to lose another son in a week,” Shields said.

Christian Life Church has started a GoFundMe to help the Jaramillo family, especially with David in the hospital. Shields said while they can’t make this situation easier for the Jaramillos, they want to remove any obstacles that may make this unthinkable time even more unbearable.

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