Wake held for ivy league student after drowning near Cornell

NEW YORK (WABC) -- There was a sorrowful wake Wednesday night for a teenager from a charter school in the Bronx with a promising future.

He was about to enter college when he was found drowned in Ithaca, New York.

Friends of Winston Perez Ventura stood outside the Ortiz Funeral Home Wednesday night and wiped away tears.

They held each other and tried to find some comfort in the headwind of grief they must now walk into.

"It doesn't make sense, it doesn't make sense, unimaginable, don't understand what went wrong," said Rossell McDonald, friend.

You may remember Winston. He was a student at Democracy Prep in Harlem.

He was so overjoyed at being accepted at Cornell University, video of him went viral earlier this year. His friends were as happy as he was.

"That was a moment to remember because Winston has been talking about Cornell since the 9th grade when we were just starting out and we were like, he could get there," McDonald said.

Winston was at Cornell attending orientation last week when he went swimming in nearby Fall Creek and drowned.

People who had so much hope for him, so much love for him, are now heartbroken by his loss.

"We thank God for being his parents," his mother said. "We are grateful they found his body and we can honor him and say goodbye."

"They're in a lot of pain, they're in a lot of pain, because he was their friend and they loved him dearly," a family friend said.

Winston was just 17 years old. He wanted to study architecture at Cornell.

"I thank God that I was allowed to get to know him for a couple of years, it was a blessing to have him in my life," McDonald said.
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