2 teens drown after jumping into Trinity River where they tried to help save 5-year-old girl

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Friday, August 7, 2020
Teens drown after jumping into river to save little girl
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In the video above, Liberty County Sheriff's Office public information officer Cpt. Ken Defoor breaks down what happened and why this particular area of the river is not the safest to swim in.

LIBERTY COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- Two teenagers drowned while trying to rescue a 5-year-old girl who was in distress while swimming in the Trinity River at SH-105 Sunday night.

It happened just west of Moss Hill in Liberty County around 7:15 p.m.

According to Liberty County Sheriff's Office lead investigator Sean Mitchell, several people were swimming when the girl became distressed.

The girl's father, along with two teens, 18-year-old Jaerson Alvarez and 17-year-old Wilmer Alexi Rodriguez, went into the water to try to save her.

The 5-year-old was pulled to safety.

The father was taken to Memorial Hermann Hospital via LifeFlight, but the teens were missing.

Authorities searched during the night but felt the river conditions were too rough to continue. Just before 9 a.m. Monday, the Cypress Lakes and Tarkingon fire departments found Rodriguez's body along the SH-105 bridge's piling in about 50 feet of water.

Alvarez's body was found shortly after near a piling.

The Rodriguez family has set up a GoFundMe for both teens in an effort to raise money to send their bodies back to Honduras for burial. The goal is $10,000.

"Liberty County Fire Marshal Bill Hergermueller continues to advise the public not to swim in this particular area of the river which has claimed several lives in the past," read a statement released by the sheriff's office. "Although the water appears to be very placid on the surface, immediately below the surface there is always a strong current that can pull a person downstream quickly."

The county also said the river bottom is covered with large holes.

Officials said one minute, you could be standing in waist-deep water, but one step can drop you into a hole of 40 to 50 feet of swift water.

Warning signs have been posted along the river's edge, according to officials, but some signs have been torn down and used for camp fires.

In the statement, the county sheriff's office did not mention if new signs will be placed.