Man who couldn’t swim gives his life to save 5-year-old who fell into California river

Posted at 8:11 PM, Jun 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-27 20:11:44-04

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. – A 22-year-old man who did not know how to swim died after he jumped into a river at California's Sequoia National Park to try and rescue a 5-year-old boy who fell in, a family member told KTLA on Sunday.

The man, named by family members as Victor Mozqueda, did not survive and authorities said his body was not visible after he jumped in.

"He saved my nephew," said brother-in-law Ivan Gonzalez to KTLA.

He jumped in the river at 6:45 a.m. Saturday after the boy fell as he walked with family members near the Sequoia entrance sign in Tulare County, according to the National Park Service.

Mozqueda was on a trip with family friends Anita Baker and Isasais Gonzalez and their 5-year-old son Vincent Gonzalez, said Mozqueda's brother-in-law Ivan Gonzalez to KTLA.

Ivan Gonzalez, who lives in Santa Clarita, said Mozqueda did not know how to swim when he jumped in and was later swept away.

It took rescuers about two hours to retrieve the man's body, authorities stated.

A GoFundMe campaign was created for Mozqueda's burial costs by Maria Mozqueda.

According to the account, "Some how Victor manage to keep Vincent on top of his head even while he was under water so that Vincent could breath. He never let go of him even when they went down under the currents a few times. The last effort he did was to throw Vincent out of the strong current so that his father could barely grab him."

"He didn't deserve to do die like that," said his sister Maria Mozqueda to KTLA. "He didn't."

The parents of the boy jumped in to help the boy after Mozqueda went in, authorities said.

Two fishermen helped get the parents and child out of the water, authorities and Gonzalez said.

A fisherman and the boy's father started CPR on the boy and were able to resuscitate him, authorities said.

The boy was later transported by ambulance to a helicopter and he was flown to a hospital in Visalia. He has since been transported to another hospital and is continuing treatment.

Ivan Gonzalez said the boy, who is at a Fresno hospital, is out of an intensive care unit and is scheduled to be released on Monday.

Park rangers, the Tulare County Fire Department and the Tulare County Sheriff's Department responded to the call, according to the National Park Service.

Authorities said this is the second fatality within two weeks in Sequoia National Park and is similar to another incident in the same location.

"In both cases, the family members who jumped in after the children did not survive," said Sequoia District Ranger Dave Fox in a statement. "The rocks are super slick on the river's edge, and people should avoid getting close to the water ... please enjoy the river from a safe distance and away from the slippery rocks."