"True Heroes": Latino Teens Gave Their Lives To Save Drowning 5-year-old Girl
"They didn't even think, they just jumped to try to help."
Beaumont, Texas is mourning the loss of two selfless young men who gave their lives to save a drowning child and her father.
Eighteen-year-old Jaerson Alvarez and 17-year-old Wilmer Rodriguez were enjoying a fishing trip with friends and family last Sunday when the group was suddenly faced with a nightmare.
A 5-year old girl had slipped and fallen into the river. Her father, Abel Castellanos, was injured when he jumped in to save her. Both were fighting for their lives.
Without thinking, Jaerson, a new father himself, jumped in to help. When he didn't come up, Wilmer jumped in.
Neither would come out of the river alive. Their bodies were recovered the next day.
The local sheriff told reporters the river is extremely dangerous, with a powerful undercurrent, 50-foot-holes, alligators, and hidden trash and metal. "The river...has claimed many lives."
Osman Ariel Nieto Baua, Jaerson's brother-in-law, was ultimately able to save the 5-year-old girl, but not his friends. Osman says Jaerson's own daughter is only a few days old.
"Jaerson was a very good person. When he looked at people on the street, he would take money from his pocket and give it to them. It didn’t matter if it was $2 or $5," Baua said. "He was thinking of his daughter when he saw that little girl. When you see someone crying for help, you have to do that. If they die [because you didn’t help], that’s your fault. He was working hard to go somewhere with his life."
Wilmer, the eldest of five siblings from Honduras, worked with Jaerson as a bricklayer. Loved ones say both young men were hard working and selfless, doing what they had to do to take care of their families.
A GoFundMe has been set up to send the young men's bodies back to Honduras for burial.
"True heroes," wrote a commenter on Facebook, echoing the sentiments of many. "So many prayers for the families, they raised true angels."