He didn’t know how to swim — but he dove to his death to save a 5-year-old’s life |

He didn’t know how to swim — but he dove to his death to save a 5-year-old’s life

Victor Mozqueda died after jumping in a river in Sequoia National Park in California to save a 5-year-old who had fallen in.
Vincent Gonzalez, 5, is recovering after falling into a roaring river in Sequoia National Park in California.

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.”

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.