LACKAWANNA, NY - The deaths of two teens Thursday night is still rattling communities in Lackawanna and South Buffalo. 2 On Your Side is learning more about the couple that died after being pulled from the Union Ship Canal by rescue crews.
Dondre Herring, 17 and Alexis Matte, 16, were looking to just cool off from the summer heat and ended up losing their lives.
"They were always together, Dondre specifically, was always laughing, he always had a smile on his face, he put me in a good mood when I was down," said Nasseem Jaahmi, a Lackawanna resident, who knew Herring for most of his life.
"I feel like there's a piece missing, especially my sister, me and my sister feel like there's a piece missing because we were best friends," said Ismat Hassan, a Buffalo resident who attends Bennett High School and knows Matte well.
Friends of the two victims say they had been dating for nearly a year.
"I didn't believe it at first, I thought my sister was playing because she came in the room crying and I was like, what's wrong and she said Alexis Matte died," said Hassan.
"They were always with the good group, they were always with the good kids," said 21-year-old Cristle Creek from Lackawanna, who says she went to school with Herring.
Friends of Matte say she was a good student and that she loved to run and she was someone who stood up for kids who were bullied in school. Of Herring, his friends say he had a positive attitude and loved to hang out at parties.
Herring and Matte were swimming in the canal like many do this time of year, even though there are signs that say swimming is not allowed. Fire officials say one of the two had difficulty in the water, then the other jumped in to help.
Both went under and couldn't be found for nearly 30 minutes. Divers couldn't locate the teens fast enough because of the murky water.
"It's like wow, it can just happen like that, I saw them at 2 o'clock and I heard about it at 8," said Creek.
Friends of Matte and Herring say life will be more difficult without them, because of the joy and humor they brought to many people.
Friends of the teens say they plan to hold a candlelight vigil for Herring and Matte. It's scheduled for next Tuesday at 8 p.m. at Victory Park in Lackawanna.