Heart-wrenching wake for other North Bergen crash victim

Hundreds poured into the Jorge Rivera Funeral Home on Tuesday for the second time in a week for the wake of Bryan Rodriguez, who was remembered for being a fantastic son, loving and caring friend who always made others laugh and smile and brought them up when they were down.

“Bryan was the only child living at home at this point and we related very well, like father and son and friend,” says the 17-year-old’s dad, Jorge Rodriguez.  “We had a very good relationship.”

There’s so much Jorge is going to miss about his son, but especially…

“His love — and the love between Bryan and his mother,” Rodriguez says.

Bryan was very happy about the fact that his father was teaching him to drive.

He had a upcoming project painting for the summer and he, his mom and Jorge were planning to go on vacation for three months to El Salvador.

According to Jorge, Bryan was a happy child and a very happy adolescent.

Whenever he asked Bryan to do something, Jorge says his son would agree to everything — he was very helpful around the house.

Bryan had an impact on everyone he met.

“He was just a person that like you always wanted to be around with, he’ll make you smile,” says friend, Joseph Menocal.  “Like if you were down, he’ll try his best to make you happy.”

Menocal says he first met Bryan at a party in 2013 and their friendship grew from there. He considered him that friend he could turn to.

Katherine Villarreal echoed that sentiment about her friend.

“Any problems I had I could go to him and then he’ll give me advice and like he always put a smile on my face,” Villarreal says.  “He was loving, I never met anyone like that before.”

“It’s really hard ‘cause like he was my friend and like we would always dance,” Danny Castillo says, adding that Bryan was a really good person and he’s going to keep dancing in his friend’s memory.

People are speechless over the unthinkable act that took the 17-year-old, but hearts and prayers go out to his family.

“I wish them the best and ya know, just for them to like stay strong,” Villarreal says.

The world is less joyful without the dancer.

“Because of this person taking two lives I feel that G-d will always make justice,” Rodriguez says.

About The Author

Jillian has a passion for news, giving voice to the voiceless and telling stories that make an impact. A New Jersey native, she spent the past two years as a multimedia journalist/one-man-band at WTAP-TV, the NBC affiliate in Parkersburg, West Virginia, where she covered everything from meth busts to fracking to the homeless to a young man struck by lightening. She was her news director’s “go to health reporter” and also covered many education and political stories. She frequently interviewed the mayors of Parkersburg, Vienna and Williamstown, WV and Belpre and Marietta, Ohio. She interviewed OH Gubernatorial Candidate Ed Fitzgerald and OH Congressional Candidate Jennifer Garrison, as well as WV Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and WV Senator Joe Manchin. Jillian was a regular fixture at the local police, sheriff’s departments, prosecutors’ offices and courthouses. Many looked forward to her ‘Mom of the Month’ series. Her story about two women who lost their children to heroin was widely recognized, along with her much loved piece on the Battle Against Cystic Fibrosis band camp. In her free time, Jillian enjoys yoga; working out, live music, spending time with friends on both coasts and the Mid-Ohio Valley. Follow on Twitter @JillianRis

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