River trip ends in tragedy

Sunday evening August 2nd, a 5-years old girl was swimming in the Trinity River with her father in the area of the State Highway 105 Bridge. That’s when the child began struggling in the always treacherous water of the Trinity River. The girls father, 25-year old Abel Castellanos, did save his daughter but then he also began struggling. Two teenagers boys, not related to the girl or her father, tried to help. The horror set in then as both boys went under and died in approximately 45-feet of water.  The teens, from Beaumont, were identified as 18-year-old Jaerson Alvarez and 17-year-old Wilmer Alexi Rodriguez had entered the river trying to help the child and her father. The girl was able to make it to shore, but her father, unconscious, had to be airlifted by Life Flight air ambulance to a Houston area Trauma Center. The teenagers were missing and search efforts were started almost immediately. That search was suspended as night fell. The effort resumed early Monday morning and both teens were found in deep water just before 9 AM. According to Liberty County Fire Marshall, Bill Hergemueller, the bodies of the two teenage heroes were found in about 45 feet of water. Texas Game Warden Jake Noxon said the 5 year old child was ok but at last report her father, Abel Castellanos, was thought to be unconscious when he was airlifted by Life Flight to a Houston Hospital. Recovery efforts were extensive. Liberty County Sheriff’s deputies, the Tarkington Volunteer Fire Department, Cypress Lakes Volunteer Fire Department and Texas Game Wardens all were involved. The bodies of the two teenagers were recovered about 20 minutes apart Monday morning by Tarkington and Cypress Lakes volunteers using what is called side-scan radar. Precinct #5 Justice of the Peace Wade Brown conducted an inquest and ordered an autopsy to both teens.  County officials like Fire Marshal Bill Hergemueller continue to urge the public not to swim in that section of the Trinity River that has claimed so many lives over the years. Liberty County Sheriff’s Public information officer Ken Defoor said locals know how dangerous the river is with what seems to be no current in waist deep water  but that depth varies from waste deep to 45 feet deep and a strong current just a few feet apart. In recent years signs have been placed to warn the public of the danger but soon the signs are torn down and used for firewood. Now two more are dead, both teenage heroes just trying to help and then another’a life is in danger. Again, the 5 year old child was saved and we are lead to believe she is alright.     

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