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Wake held for teens who died in cesspool

Mourners console one another outside the Robertaccio Funeral

Mourners console one another outside the Robertaccio Funeral Home in Patchogue, where they mourned the loss of Eduardo Vanegas-Fuentes and Edgar Calderon-Castro, who died in a cesspool in Farmingdale. (June 6, 2011) Credit: James Carbone

Mourners at the wake Monday for two teenagers who died in a cesspool in Farmingville described them as sweet and selfless -- and who had been looking forward to a backyard evening last week building a bonfire.

The two, Eduardo Vanegas-Fuentes, 16, of Holtsville and Edgar Calderon-Castro, 19, of Farmingville, had been eating ice cream bars in the kitchen Thursday evening, according to Ignacio Suarez, the father of the teens' friend Samuel Suarez, 16. The bonfire had been two months in the planning, he said.

The teens went into the yard of the home the Suarez family was renting, he said, and removed a concrete lid covering the cesspool, a first step in setting up a bonfire site. Moments later, his son ran into the living room, screaming for help.

Suarez, 45, said the teens had no idea that a cesspool was under the 25-inch-wide slab. Vanegas-Fuentes lost his footing and fell in, and Calderon-Castro climbed in, trying to save him.

Monday, outside the Robertaccio Funeral Home in Patchogue, Suarez said Calderon-Castro had lived with them for six months. He said that Thursday evening he asked Calderon-Castro how he was doing, and the teen told him he was fine.

"He said, 'But I'm going to leave,' " Suarez said, tearing up. He asked Calderon-Castro where he was going, but didn't get a direct answer.

"I felt like he was saying goodbye," Suarez said. "Maybe he had a premonition of what was going to happen. Ten minutes later, that happened."

Dozens of adults and teenagers filed into the funeral home during the afternoon, the only observance being held locally.

"He was the sweetest person in the world," said Geena Balbuena, 16, Vanegas-Fuentes' girlfriend. She said Monday would have marked their seventh month dating. "He was always there for anybody, doesn't matter if he knew you or not," she said.

Calderon-Castro's stepsister Rachel Nelson, 18, of Farmingville said he "was an awesome person. I accepted him and he accepted me. We've been through thick and thin together."

David Raimondo, attorney for the Vanegas-Fuentes family, said he has hired a private investigator and engineer to look into whether the cesspool on the rental property met local regulations.

Calderon-Castro's remains will be returned to his native Monjaras, Honduras, and those of Vanegas-Fuentes will be sent to Mexico. Family and friends have set up a trust seeking donations to help cover the expenses.

Donations can be sent to In Memory and Trust of Eduardo Vanegas, in care of Citizens Bank, 1055 Waverly Ave., Holtsville. Ana Rangel, 19, a friend of both families, said they will share the donations.

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