EXCLUSIVE: Family, community mourns drowning victims

Published: May. 16, 2022 at 11:23 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Hundreds of people attended a funeral service for Ahmed and Saleem Qasem, the two brothers who drowned at Warren Dunes State Park over the weekend.

People gathered at the Islamic Society of Michiana to pay their respects Monday night.

“I have no words. They were everything,” said Cousin Abdul Hussein.

“Everybody at the Mosque knows them here. Everybody at the Mosque knows how much they enjoy coming here and how much they love providing for the community. And everyone knows also the bond they have with all of their friends and peers,” said Cousin Lamyaa Hussein.

The two brothers were students at Saint Joseph High School in South Bend.

Ahmed was a senior and Saleem a sophomore.

“They are both intelligent, like crazy smart. And they are both really athletic,” said Hussein.

Sunday night, the Baroda-Lake Township Police said officers were sent to Warren Dunes regarding four juveniles struggling in the water.

Bystanders were able to rescue two of them.

In an emotional interview, Mohamed recalled what he remembered:

“Kept on drowning, coming back up. Drowning, coming back up. Something just told me to come back up and I came back up and saw somebody coming at me. And he helped me get me out. The second he got me out and he heard there was another two kids, he just started crying.”

Thirty-five minutes after arriving on scene, Lake Township Fire Rescue found the two brothers in the lake.

Police said they later died at the hospital.

“Heartbreaking and it’s also unbearable to think that they are no longer with us,” said Hussein.

Family and friends said the brothers were raised to be respected and grounded young men.

“They were always so full of life. Saleem could be a little timid and shy, but no matter what he was still a happy and loving kid. They were both loving and happy kids. That’s how I want them to be remembered...They used to have some big poofy hair sometimes. They would like to grow it out, so I am going to miss picking on them and telling them they need to get a haircut,” said Hussein.

Saint Joe High is offering support and counseling for students and staff.

Meantime, a Go-Fund-Me page has been set up to help with funeral expenses.

If you would like to help this family, click here.

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