He didn’t know how to swim — but he dove to his death to save a 5-year-old’s life
Victor Mozqueda no doubt knew that the risks were high, but for him there was no question about what he felt he had to do.
A 5-year-old family member had slipped and fallen into a roaring river in Sequoia National Park in California, and there was no time to waste. So without hesitation Mozqueda plunged into the water to save him, relatives told ABC affiliate KABC.
Mozqueda couldn’t swim.
The 22-year-old’s brother-in-law, Ivan Gonzalez, told the station that Mozqueda was “dragged to the stronger currents right away.”
“He went under for two to three seconds with the child, he never let him go, and the last thing he did was throw him at my brother for him to pull him out,” he told the station. “My brother barely grabbed him and tossed him to his wife, and Victor went under, and they couldn’t chase him.”
Mozqueda drowned during the rescue Saturday in Kaweah River. The child, Vincent Gonzalez, is now recovering, relatives said.
The incident comes just weeks after another man, from Los Angeles, died in the rapids, according to the National Park Service.
“The rivers that travel through the foothills in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are feed by snow melt and are much faster than expected,” officials with the National Park Service said in a statement earlier this month. “Entering into one of these rivers is not only dangerous for the public but also for the rescuers.”
Following Mozqueda’s death, relatives described how a family trip to the park last weekend turned into an unspeakable tragedy.
Mozqueda’s family members wrote on a GoFundMe page last week that the 22-year-old man from Santa Clarita was the first person to jump into the water to try to save the 5-year-old boy.
“Vincent’s parents jumped into the water as well but were unable to reach them as the currents were too strong,” it read. “Three fisherman also tried to help but were unable to reach them.”
Relatives said that somehow Mozqueda “never let go of him even when they went down under the ⅛current⅜ a few times. The last effort he did was to throw Vincent out of the strong ⅛current⅜ so that his father could grab him.
“We have no idea how he managed to not let go of Vincent to save his own life. He pushed him out right before the current took him.”
The child’s mother told ABC News that his father, with help from a nearby fisherman, performed CPR on him. He was then transported by air to a nearby hospital for treatment, police told the network.
It was hours before authorities were able to recover Mozqueda’s body.
“He is Vincent’s Angel and a hero to all of us for ever,” relatives wrote on the GoFundMe page, which shows the small child smiling on a playground, still wearing his hospital gown. “We will for ever be grateful for his courage, bravery and unselfish act. We will always miss you Victor and you will for ever live in our hearts.”