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'You guys are so loved'; Manitowoc shows support to a family following a tragedy

Posted at 7:50 PM, Feb 01, 2024

MANITOWOC (NBC 26) — There's a growing memorial in Manitowoc after the death of a man just days ago.

  • Manuel Barajas passed away last weekend. He was found in the Manitowoc River on Tuesday.
  • Barajas' family owns the La Caretta restaurant in Manitowoc. After a social media post, the Manitowoc community began to send their love.
  • Manitowoc County local, Kathy Hesselman says the community is close and she hopes the family will receive help in this time.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

We're learning more about who he was and his impact on this community.

Outside La Carreta, the restaurant where he worked, there are candles and flowers for Manuel Barajas.

Police say they found his body on Tuesday in the Manitowoc River.

Barajas, police say, was last seen early Sunday morning, not far from the 8th Street Bridge.

They believe his death was an accident.

The Barajas family owns La Carreta and Kathy Hesselman and others tell me it's a place many in this community love.

"It's real accommodating,” Hesselman said. “Really sweet guys there, really nice people."

Kathy says she has gone to the restaurant for years and was even there this weekend.

"It was really... you know, it hits everybody hard,” she said of hearing about Barajas’ passing.

An outpouring of love for Barajas on the restaurant's steps and social media.

La Caretta received 223 comments after it posted they were closing on Tuesday. Many sent thoughts and prayers, with one woman saying …

“My heart breaks along with your family! I am so sorry! You guys are so loved in our community."

Kathy, who also shared a message online, hopes the support will not stop there.

"They are pretty tight in Manitowoc and the other areas,” she said. “They can be pretty close. Somebody needs help, a lot of people help each other there."

Manuel's family is still in the planning process following the tragedy. He was 29.