Chesapeake man dies after falling from Ohio resort balcony

Posted at 2:08 PM, Apr 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-14 06:45:19-04

SANDUSKY, Ohio - A 25-year-old Chesapeake man died Tuesday after falling from a hotel balcony in Sandusky, Ohio.

Derek VanCleave | VanCleave Family

Derek VanCleave was visiting the area and staying at Kalahari Resort and Conventions with family when he fell from the third-floor balcony around 10:30 a.m.

News 3 spoke exclusively to his family.

His mother, Leslie, said she took her eyes off him for a split second and the unimaginable happened.

“I screamed because I looked over the edge of the balcony and that’s something you don’t want anybody to have to go through because I saw him," Leslie VanCleave said.

VanCleave's parents said he was disabled.

But Derek didn't let that stop him.

“He taught us every day how to live life to the fullest and how to be happy," Derek's father, Jim VanCleave, said. “He taught us how to fight. Whenever you thought you couldn’t keep going --- you saw how much he fought.”

Jim said Derek suffered head trauma after being hit by a truck when he was 14-years-old.

“We’ve worked for over ten years to help our son get to a better place in this world. To get to a happier place and he always struggled with his brain injury," Leslie said.

The family was returning home from Ohio when the tragedy happened.

Though the VanCleave's wish Derek was still here, they say they're happy he died having fun.

Kalahari released a statement on Tuesday afternoon:

"We are deeply saddened by this morning’s events. We are fully cooperating with the local authorities for anything they may need. As this incident resulted from a personal and private matter in a guest room, we will not be commenting further. Our thoughts and prayers are those affected."

No foul play is suspected.