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Church celebrates 12th birthday for victim of Adventureland accident

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Jaramillo family balloon release

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) - David and Sabrina Jaramillo say their family is still processing the tragedy that hit them this summer.

"You find yourself trying to figure out, 'Where am I right now?'" David said. "You want to keep it together, but then your head fights with you."

On Saturday July 3, the Marion family was riding the Raging River ride at Adventureland in Des Moines. The 1,500 lb. raft they were riding in flipped over, submerging them all underwater.

Two of their boys became trapped under the raft. Their youngest son Michael died in the accident, while their oldest son David Jr. went into a coma and was hospitalized for weeks.

"We have the cross with his ashes in it, we wear them. We have his ashes at home, we have his pictures. It's in our mind still. We still feel like he's not really gone," David Sr. said.

Tuesday would have been Michael's 12th birthday, and members of Christian Life Church gathered to tell stories about him and release balloons in his honor.

"He was a prankster, jokester, storyteller. He always had got a fast 'zip.' You know, 'back at you,'" David Sr. said.

About 25 people attended, sharing in the laughs and eating cake afterward. His parents say the community support is very helpful.

"It's nice to see people are thinking about him just as much as we are," David Sr. said.

The family says they feel blessed David Jr. was able to leave the hospital in August and rejoin their family. Through their faith, they believe Michael is in a better place and they will be reunited with him one day.

The family attorney says he is organized Michael's estate to prepare for a forthcoming lawsuit.

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