Deputies said the man was swimming with his family Saturday when he went under. The body was finally recovered just before 5pm Sunday.
Authorities identified the victim as Jacinto Ortiz.
Jimmy Spears says he vividly remembers the moment when Ortiz disappeared beneath the waters. He and a friend were fishing when they saw the man drowning. They tried to help, but it was too late.
"There was nothing we could do, nothing we could do for him. He was gone," Spears said.
Spears said he got as close as five feet away, but couldn't manage save the man.
"Me and my buddy were watching him walk out in the river, and we were talking to each other, saying 'he needs to be careful,' and the second we said that, he started screaming for help and that was it," Spears said. "The current took him."
Authorities tell us Ortiz's 15-year-old relative also jumped in, but couldn't manage to rescue him. The boy had to return to shore in order to save his own life.
"Even though it looks shallow and very little current, it has a very strong undercurrent and its very deep," Spears said.
Crews searched into the night and then picked back up at daybreak Sunday.
The Liberty County Sheriff's Office had help from dive teams, game wardens, Texas EquuSearch and multiple fire departments along with a DPS helicopter.
Please stay with Eyewitness News and abc13.com for updates as they become available.