Pineview drowning victim was newlywed

Tuesday , March 18, 2014 - 1:50 PM

Charles F. Trentelman, Jesus Lopez Jr.

OGDEN — Silvia Mejia lived with Jose Bahena for six years. They have a 16-month old daughter together and got married last week. All of their friends came to a celebratory party Saturday.

By Monday evening, Jose’s new bride had become his widow.

Jose Bahena, 42, drowned at the Middle Inlet swim area at Pineview Reservoir. The Weber County Sheriff’s Office said one of Jose’s sons, Hafit Bahena, 11, was playing in the water and got into trouble, so Jose went in to help him.

Silvia’s son, Jerson Salazar, 12, who was wearing a life jacket, also went in to help.

While Jerson helped Hafit out of the water, Jose apparently slipped under the surface. Sheriff’s deputies later found his body in about 5 feet of water.

On Tuesday morning, Silvia sat in her crowded, small, wood frame house on Ogden’s 22nd Street, with friends standing around the front porch and yard to offer condolences and whatever help they could.

She alternated between trying to be polite and answer questions, crying, and holding her squirming 16-month-old daughter, Sahara Bahena.

Silvia said Jose worked for Futura Industries in the Freeport Center in Clearfield. He loved his kids — “He did everything for his children,” she said through an interpreter — and he’d go fishing daily if he could.

Santos Palacios, a friend, said he met Jose about five years ago. They are part of a group of Ogden residents originally from the state of Guerrero in Mexico.

“We found out he was from the same town as my mother. We became great friends,” Palacios said.

He said they would constantly text each other on their phones and chat on Facebook, usually about the next time they would go fishing together, something Palacios said they could not do together as much as he would like because of work.

“He was a good friend, a good man and a good dad,” Palacios said.

Silvia said she did not see the accident because she had gone to the car to change their daughter’s diaper. When she returned, friends who were fishing with them were panicking and Jose was missing.

Jose Mejia (no relation to Silvia), a neighbor and friend of the family, said Silvia has no idea what she’s going to do next, or even how she’s going to pay for a funeral.

She works at McDonald’s, he said, and when asked what sort of financial situation Jose’s death left her in, or how she would pay for a funeral, she could only shrug.

“We have not talked about that,” he said. “She’s looking at what will happen. I need to talk to her about that. She doesn’t know how she’s going to do it.”

Outside, Pastor Sorto, of Ogden, said his wife was Silvia’s boss at McDonald’s and they had just been to the wedding celebration Saturday.

The sudden switch from joy to tragedy was hard to fathom, he said, and left Silvia in a tough situation.

“It’s hard for these poor people, but it is life,” he said.

Jose Mejia was similarly philosophical.

“When God wants to (take you), we can do nothing about it,” he said. “Life is borrowed.”

Sign up for e-mail news updates.