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Remembering Omar

May 17, 2024

Highlands News-Sun

By Phil Attinger, Staff Writer

“Naturally, my brother was my best friend, my rock, and godfather to my baby,” said Danialee Gutierrez about her brother, Omar.

“If you knew my brother, you knew there wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for you,” Danialee added. “I don’t know why God took him because my family needs him, but now he has one of the best angels up there with him.”

Omar Gutierrez-Gomez, 22, cruised Saturday on Lake Jackson with at least one companion in an 18-foot Sea Ray. Preliminary information from emergency responders that he jumped into the water at or before 6:58 p.m. that evening to retrieve a fallen hat.

He did not resurface, and was found early Monday morning, deceased.

On Tuesday, local clergy and community leaders held a Service of Community Lament for Omar under a pavilion at Veterans Beach, which had been the staging area for searchers.

Rev. George Miller, who presided over the service, said he was at Veterans Beach on Saturday and realized that, being Mother’s Day weekend, Omar’s mother, Rosita Brions, was going through the worst pain imaginable.

He also realized that even though Omar lived in Wauchula, he had connections to Highlands County. Miller thought it fitting to reach out to comfort his family, as his death affected people far beyond his daily reach.

Even those who never knew him, Miller said, knew something terrible had happened when Veterans Beach was closed over the weekend to facilitate the search.

Angel Rodriguez, a family friend from Wauchula, who also spoke at the service, thanked the approximately 75 people for coming that night.

“Thank you for your support for the family. They need it,” Rodriguez said. “Omar would never want [to see] frowns on our faces. We’ll put some smiles on.”

That would come later, after the tears. The service waited to start until after Omar’s mother arrived. She sat up front, surrounded by family and friends, each with willing arms to embrace her.

Miller began with a message about the Gospel of Mark, which told of numerous occasions of Jesus providing healing to people at the behest of their family members and friends.

“We see how family matters to Jesus,” Miller said. “Jesus grieves for families that have suffered great loss. We all know what it is like to have lost someone we love.”

Carnide Thermidor sang a song titled, “It Matters to God,” which states that “if it matters to you, it matters to the Master,” one who “hears the tears that don’t make a sound.”

Lissette Torres Jones led the group in choruses of “Amazing Grace,” and violinist Aristides Salgueiro also played “Amazing Grace” and gave a closing prayer, in Spanish.

Larry Moore and Corey Adams, leaders of a fatherhood focus effort called “Mending the Gap,” reportedly postponed their group’s first meeting to attend the event and provide candles to everyone there.

As people lit candles, Moore said they had all come because they love someone, and urged them not to pity the dead, but rather those who live without love, family or friends, un- like all those who showed up to honor their son, brother and friend.

Remembering Omar
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