If you lived in the Pittsburgh area from late January 2017 to early March 2017, you probably saw multiple signs reading “Missing Person: Dakota James”. The young man on those flyers had a smile that could light up a room and eyes that seemed excited for the future. Dakota James, 23, was a Duquesne University graduate student that was living in the North Shore of Pittsburgh, PA. James went missing January 25 th around 11:46 p.m. in Pittsburgh’s Culture District after night out with some co-workers. Immediately after his disappearance, Dakota’s family came to Pittsburgh looking day in and day for the charming young man on the missing persons sign. All of February , hundreds of local citizens also helped his family and local police search for him with no results. Of course, Pittsburgh came together as a whole hanging flyers around Duquesne University, Point Park University, Oakland, local restaurants and other major businesses with high hopes that someone might have some answers. Dakota James also was a young gay man. The news of his disappearance struck Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ hard and the community wanted answers. Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ community is like a family of protective lions. We protect and look out for our own, and mostly when they are in need. Dakota’s family also held a candle light vigil for him in which more than 70 people came to together to pray for Dakota’s safe return. The whole city had high hopes that Dakota James would be found alive and this nightmare would finally come together. A nightmare is exactly what it was. Every day seeing those flyers made Pittsburgh’s hearts sorer than anything imaginable.
Our hearts broke into a million pieces on the morning of March 6 th 2017. A woman discovered a body floating in the Ohio River in Robinson Township, PA while walking her dog. The body was later identified as that of Dakota James. He was wearing the same clothing the night of his disappearance and his wallet was found on him as well. Police pulled the body out of the Ohio and was taken to the coroner for an autopsy later in the week. His family was notified shortly after while news outlets reported that he did indeed pass away. The news seemed unreal for most and there was a gloom over the city after it broke. A young passionate man that was gone too soon. It didn’t seem fair. Nothing about this is.
HerCampus Point Park first wants to send its deepest sympathy to Dakota James’s family and close friends. We understand your pain and this wasn’t the outcome we wanted for this young man. Thoughts and prays go out to his family. Dakota had so much more to live for. He never got the chance to get married. He will never get to start his own family. He never got to live the life he deserved to live. Everything about this breaks our hearts. However, it’s important that people celebrate him for all he did and the impact he had on people’s lives. He was someone’s best friend. He was someone’s son. He meant so much to the people in his life. There is nothing alright about this but knowing he is in a better place gives some reassurance.
The Pittsburgh LGBT communities raise your pride flags high. Let those rainbow colors been seen for the entire city to see. We lost a family member. Whatever happened to this young man, it’s important we keep his spirit alive. This could have been anyone of us. You never know what’s going to happen and it’s important that we show each other kindness always. It’s also important that we always look out for each other. We don’t know how wants to cause this community harm and it’s truly scary. Dakota didn’t deserve this. He should still be here with his LGBT family in Pittsburgh. Though there were no rainbows when Dakota was found, but his own rainbow is in all our hearts.
Rest In Peace, Dakota James. May you find peace on your new journey to your paradise. May you be welcomed with love and true happiness. Taking down your flyers will be difficult for the city but knowing you are watching over will make it a little easier. Next time the city see’s a rainbow we know it will be a sign you’re still with the city, your family, and the LGBTQ community. “Baby we can see your halo, and we pray it doesn’t fade away”.
Rest Easy Dakota,
Love HerCampus Point Park
Photo credit: www.post-gazette.com