Under the Hat: Our Virtual Community - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

Under the Hat: Our Virtual Community

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If there is anything good that can come from the recent loss of an Erie teenager, it's further proof that neighbors here can and do care about each other.

I'm talking of course about the death of 17-year old Jacob Samusenko, whose body was found floating in Presque Isle Bay this week.

Until that point Jacob's story had been a real mystery. He was asked to take out the garbage from his parent's East 2nd Street home and hadn't been seen since.

He literally disappeared without a trace.

Without any facts to go on the theories quickly spread; how Jacob had been taken because the family owed someone money, how the teen decided to rebel and run away to New York as his 18th birthday approached.

Pictures of Jacob popped up on phone poles and store windows all over town in the ensuing six weeks and volunteers gathered to search the woods near his home.

People who had no connection to the family became attached to Jacob's story, some for the mystery but others bound by the common human bond of watching one set of parents go through any parent's worst horror.

The day after the body was found I wrote a one sentence story on our company's web page reporting that dental records had proven that the body found in the bay belonged to Jacob.

Within minutes there were dozens of replies offering thoughts and prayers; within hours the number of people who saw the story either directly or shared by someone grew to more than 20,000.

The rapid response seems to prove both the power of the virtual medium and the power of the attachment people had to a young boy most of them had never met.

We may never know what exactly happened with Jacob. The physical evidence shows no signs of foul play and drowning as the most likely cause of death.

No longer a mystery but rather a terrible accident that is impacting one Erie family and in many ways the rest of us as well.

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