Man's body recovered after trying to save niece from drowning in northeast Harris County

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A man dies after saving a family member from drowning in the SanJacinto river. (KTRK)

A man in his twenties died Saturday while walking in the San Jacinto River with four relatives, including three young girls.

It happened at Magnolia Garden Park on Beach Street at Riverside just after 2:30 p.m.

The man was carrying his three-year-old niece when he stepped into a hole and could not get out, according to officials with the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

He managed to yell for help and pass her to strangers who rushed in to rescue the man, his niece, another adult and two other children walking in the water with them.

Magnolia Garden Park, is a private beach with no lifeguards on duty. The sheriff's office said it has posted signs warning that beachgoers swim at their own risk.

"He was screaming 'help, help!' We just went in the water trying to rescue them," Samuel Fuentes said.

Fuentes and his friend did not know the victims but helped pull the children to safety. The three children and other adult were not hurt.

Captain Don Stanton with the Harris County Marine Division said last year there was a drowning on Easter Day a couple miles down river.

"Last year, it started on Easter. This year, it started the day before Easter," he said. "This is a bad river. It kills a lot of people every year. Not counting the flooding, there were four drownings here last year."

He said the sand under the water shifts and creates deep trenches with steep drops.

Stanton suggests swimmers use personal floatation devices and said he's never seen a person wearing one become a drowning victim.

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