Young twins drown at Texas City Dike

HOUSTON Eyewitnesses say twin nine-year-old girls were swimming and were pulled deeper into the water and drowned.

The family was spending time at the Texas City Dike on a very nice Sunday. Lots of families were out there.

The family told Eyewitness News the two girls knew how to swim. Their father did not. Still, he ran after them, to try to save them.

"You look at the ocean and still have hope. Maybe just maybe, but it's too -- I can't believe it," aunt Linda Lopez said.

Nine-year-old twins Samantha and Alexandra Suarez were so excited to jump in the water when they got to the Texas City Dike. They rushed out only to be swept under by strong currents. Police say there is a steep drop off between 50 to 100 feet in. The girls' father, 33-year-old Hector Suarez, ran after them. He, too, went under.

The rest of the family was still unpacking their trucks and saw the whole thing.

"My father-in-law and my husband went in there as well, trying to help him, help the girls," Lopez said. "But they were getting swept away as well. And they ended up helping each other. They ended up rescuing each other."

Tony Lopez, who tried to save his nieces, was too distraught to speak in front of a camera, but had a private conversation with Eyewitness News. He said he could hear the girls crying. He tried to reach for them, but couldn't overpower the current.

Former Paramedic Cheri Henderson has helped with similar rescues.

"It creates a suction, and by the time that suction happens, kids can't get out of the water," Henderson said. "They don't know what it is."

For hours, a Coast Guard helicopter flew overhead and below, a shrimp boat combed the water. They found Alexandra Suarez and rushed her to the hospital, where she later died. Her mother hasn't moved from Alexandra's hospital bedside since.

Rescuers also spotted the father and revived him. He is on a breathing machine.

Hours later, an officer spotted the body of Samantha washed up on the beach.

Most of the family has already left to the hospital, where Hector Suarez is. He's in critical condition and said to be not doing well.

Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.