HPD Divers to Join TPWD Tuesday in Search for Canyon Lake Drowning Victim
Joel Jijo Puthenpuyaril, the 22-year-old Houston man who drowned in Canyon Lake on Saturday, strongly believed that God has a plan for everyone.
In a heartfelt July 31, 2020 YouTube video meant to encourage people living through the dark days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jijo quoted Jeremiah 29:11:
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future full of hope.”
In the video, Jijo spoke about his faith journey, which was a “slow process but a very steady one.”
“As I was reading this, I was realizing that I can have a lot of plans,” he said. “I can have a lot of different things that I want to do, that I want to aspire to be. But at the end of the day, the plan that should prevail, the plan that will leave me with the satisfaction, is the plan of God.”
Click here to watch that video.
Meanwhile, rescuers are making plans to recover Jijo’s body.
The search for his remains will continue “from sunrise to sunset” today, according to Captain Game Warden Javier Fuentes, Region 5, District 5 with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), which is spearheading the recovery and investigation.
Houston Police Department (HPD) divers will join TPWD’s dive team in the water. They also assisted TPWD in the July 2020 search for the body of Luis Alexandria Rodriguez, a 25-year-old Mexican native who drowned near Party Cove.
Fuentes said Canyon Lake Fire/EMS also will help with today’s recovery efforts.
On Monday, a TPWD helicopter and two drones with thermal cameras searched the lake’s cove area. TPWD also brought a dive-team vessel that uses underwater sonar equipment.
“We were not successful in locating the victim,” Fuentes said.
Jijo was last seen in the water between boat ramps 5 and 6 around 10 a.m. Saturday. He was a passenger on a pontoon boat and was not wearing a life jacket when he went under. Another passenger was rescued by someone on the boat.
“He Found Joy in Everything”
A friend who does not wish to be identified shared the YouTube video with MyCanyonLake.com to give readers a better understanding of who the young man was and what his values were.
Fr. Saji Pinarkayil, the Missouri City Catholic priest who served as Jijo’s pastor from 2016-20 at the St. Thomas SyroMalabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago, described his parishioner as a son, brother, cousin and friend who touched many lives.
“Joel grew up in a very devoted Catholic family,” he said. “However, he wanted more. He didn’t simply want what his parents were teaching him…he wanted a personal connection with the faith and he began to dive into Jesus himself through word of God, mass, confession and ministry.”
Fr. Pinarkayil remembered Jijo for his “radiating smile which is always on his face no matter the situation” and said he is, and always will be, a role model.
“He is a son and from what I’ve seen and heard, a God-sent son,” he said. “Obedient, observant, does all things around the house without being told and much, much more. Joel is and always will be a role model for the youth to bring them closer to God. He will continue his mission bringing the youth closer to God from heaven, at the right hand of God.”
According to Jijo’s friend, the young man’s full name is Joel Jijo Puthenpuyaril. In Indian culture, the father’s first name is used for a child’s last name.
“Jijo is his dad’s first name,” the friend said. “Puthenpuyaril would be their family name.”
In the comments section on YouTube, someone who knew the Houston resident wrote: “Joel, ur testimony has given so much inspiration to our youth. We now know what you said last year to us is making big meaning to us today. May this journey continue in a better place.”