The family members of Jaerson Alvarez and Wilmer Alexi Rodriguez, both 18, of Beaumont, Texas, are trying to raise money now to send their bodies back home to Honduras for burial. The two young men were killed Sunday while trying to rescue a father and daughter from the Trinity River in Moss Hill.
The family of the deceased was enjoying a day of fishing along the west bank of the Trinity River at the SH 105 bridge when they noticed the young girl calling for help.
While it was previously reported that Jaerson and Wilmer were the only two who jumped in to help, more information about the tragedy has come to light. Jaerson’s brother-in-law, Osman Ariel Nieto Baua, also of Beaumont, was the first to enter the water after the child’s father had gone to help her.
Osman says he swam out to get the little girl and returned her safely to shore. In the confusion, the child’s father swam back across to the other side of the river to look for the child who was already safely on the sandbar.
Jaerson also jumped in the water to help but he, too, became distressed when he stepped into a deep pit in the river and couldn’t get out.
“He was calling to me, ‘Ariel, help me, help me,'” said Osman, who is referred to as Ariel by his family members.
Fatigued from swimming across the river with the young girl, Osman said he couldn’t get his body to cooperate to rescue Jaerson. He said his legs felt like they had gone to sleep from the overexertion. Jaerson’s cousin, Wilmer, who family members say could not swim, went to help Jaerson, but he, too, fell into the deep hole and could not get out. Both drowned and their bodies were recovered by authorities on Monday.
Jaerson and Wilmer worked as bricklayers in the Beaumont area. The family members say that both were good family men who stayed out of trouble and avoided alcohol, cigarettes and drugs. Jaerson dreamed of becoming a U.S. citizen and had emigrated to America three years ago. Last month, he and his wife welcomed their only child – a baby girl named Emily.
Jaerson loved singing Christian songs and frequently posting videos of himself singing on the Internet for his family members to see and share.
“Jaerson was a very good person. When he looked at people on the street, he would take money from his pocket and give to them. It didn’t matter if it was $2 or $5. He would give whatever he had to them,” Osman said. “He was thinking of his daughter when he saw that little girl. When you see someone crying for help, you have to do that. If they die [because you didn’t help], that’s your fault. He was working hard to go somewhere with his life.”
The family believes that Wilmer, who was single with no children, died for his devotion and love for his cousin.
“We think he was trying to push Jaerson up out of the water when he died. He tried saving Jaerson,” Osman said.
A Go Fund Me account has been set up to help the family with funeral expenses. Click here to make a donation: https://www.gofundme.com/f/funeral-fund-for-trinity-river-heroes
Neal Funeral Home of Cleveland is handling funeral arrangements.