A Wisconsin couple is desperate to find their teen son’s body after the 17-year-old was swept away in a riptide while trying to save them during a trip to an Alabama beach last weekend.
Chris Lemke says he and his wife, Carrie, 37, were swimming in the ocean at Fort Morgan Beach on March 25 when the violent riptide became too much to handle. Their son Jevon was one of several people who jumped into the water to save the couple, but the teen was swept away in the strong riptide.
“He was pulled out further … we went back in to try to get Jevon, but he was too far out. I tried yelling for Jevon,” Chris, 39, tells PEOPLE of his son. “We went and got help, we waited for the ambulance. There wasn’t much we could do. We were kind of helpless waiting for everyone to get there to try to search for him and get him out of the water.”
One day after the incident, the U.S. Coast Guard suspended the search for the teen, according to the Post Crescent. Multiple emergency units looked for Jevon, including Coast Guard crews in boats and helicopters.
The family remained in Fort Morgan for a week with hopes that rescue teams would recover Jevon’s body, Lemke tells PEOPLE. Devastated, they returned to Wisconsin on Monday without the teen’s remains.
“Now, I want to give Jevon his proper burial, even though we don’t have a body to bury. I want to make sure he’s at peace,” Lemke says. “We’re never gonna move on from Jevon, there’s no way. But we have to trust that the Lord’s gonna take care of it.”
Photos from the family trip show Jevon smiling wide alongside his father and siblings. According to Lemke, the smiling shots paint the perfect picture of his son.
“There wasn’t much I didn’t like about him. He was a good kid. My favorite thing just his heart,” the father of four says. “The effort he gave everything. He put a lot of heart into everything he did. He was a good kid who gave his all.”
Lemke says it still hasn’t hit him that his son, a junior at Reedsville High School, is gone.
“I don’t even know if I realize yet, to be honest,” he tells PEOPLE. “I know he’s not here, but I feel him in my heart. I feel like he’s still with me.”
Still, the grieving father says it pains him to think of all the things his son will miss.
“I’m gonna miss him just being here in general,” Lemke says. “Watching him grow up, watching him get married. He was such a good kid.”