"I would have laid my life down": Grandmother mourns the loss of siblings who drowned at Sylvan Beach

LA PORTE, Texas (KTRK) -- A grandmother says she feels like her heart has been ripped out of her chest since learning three of her grandchildren drowned at Sylvan Beach.

Valerie Hines said Zania Hunter, 13, Zakai Hunter, 11, and Zion "Ziggy" Hines, 7, all died.

The children were planning to spend the weekend at her house starting Thursday to get ready for school. Instead, Hines said, their parents decided to take them to the beach.

Hines fainted when she got word of what happened on Friday and had to be taken to the hospital herself.

"Just imagining the kids being in distress and couldn't really save themselves or pull themselves out of the water," Hines said.

She still does not know what happened that led to the drownings. Eyewitnesses said the current was strong in the water Thursday afternoon. Chambers County Sheriff's Office said they are still investigating.

"He used to just rub my face and say, 'Nana I love you' and just lay on me," Hines said of the youngest who died.

A 10-year old that she identified as C.J. Hines was saved by a stranger.

The grandmother wept as she talked about that woman.

"Whoever that stranger was, I thank you so much," Hines said.

At the point that Hines spoke to ABC13, she had only been able to talk to her son on the phone. She said he was inconsolable over the loss of his children. The family has created a GoFundMe account to help raise money for the siblings' funeral expenses.

"He just kept crying and saying, 'Mama, I need you. I need you. I need you,'" she said.

No lifeguards were on duty at the time of the drownings.

Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia said they only work from 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Friday through Sunday. Since the drownings, he said he wants to increase the staffing.

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