Family of 19-year-old heartbroken after family friend is presumed dead in Lake Michigan

Published: Jan. 2, 2020 at 11:31 PM EST
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(1/2/2020) - A life gone too soon.

Eliza Trainer, 16, was an only child who loved the outdoors and aspired to be a diesel mechanic.

The Flushing teen has been raised by her loving father since losing her mother to breast cancer five years ago. But she also had a second family that cared for her like one of their own.

"As a family of hers, we're going to forever be hurting," Sabra Goodrich said.

She has seven children, and they were each very close with Trainer.

In fact, it was her 19-year-old son, Kade Goodrich, who was with Trainer at Holland State Park. Goodrich received a call from her son early Thursday morning, and she says all he could say was Eliza's name.

Trainer loved playing soccer and was a member of the Winter Guard at Flushing High School. She was an only child who was shy at first, but started to come out of her shell as she spent more and more time with the Goodrich family.

"It took her a while to get used to our big family, but we've been on several vacations together. She'd come to church with us and she's a very outdoorsy girl. She loves to go outside and fish and boat with us," Goodrich said.

On the first evening of 2020, Goodrich said her 19-year-old son and Trainer walked on the pier into Lake Michigan at Holland State Park. They had seen other piers, but they hadn't seen a lighthouse before

During that walk, a huge wave crashed to shore, knocking them off their feet. They held hands, fighting desperately to get to the rocks.

"He was on the rock trying to pull her up and another huge wave came and separated them, and he couldn't hold onto her anymore. The wave took her and he couldn't see her anymore," Goodrich said.

She said her son fought himself out of the water and immediately ran for help, finding a gentleman named, Antonio, who let him use his phone. He was taken to the hospital, where Goodrich said she received a phone call at about 12:30 a.m.

"They were able to let me talk to him. I asked him, 'Who was with you?' and that's all he could say was her name," Goodrich said.

A name they'll wear on their hearts forever.

Although the road ahead is a long one, they're trying to find comfort and hope. Trainer's mother, Sandra, passed away from breast cancer five years ago.

"We have the joy to know that she's in heaven with her mother, so we hold to that hope that we're going to see her again. It's going to hurt really bad until we do, but that is the hope," Goodrich said.

There is a Remembering Eliza Jane GoFundMe page. If you'd like to read more about her story and donate, visit the "Related Links" section below (mobile) or on the right (desktop).