|A 22-year-old Newhall man died Saturday in the fast-moving waters of Sequoia National Park after he jumped into a river to save a drowning boy.
The 5-year-old, who had slipped into the Kaweah River, was pulled to safety and survived. Victor Mozqueta, who jumped into to save him, died Saturday.
“The cause of death is still pending, but it’s probably going to be by drowning,” said Detective Mark Webb of the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department.
About 7:15 a.m. Saturday, officials at Sequoia National Park were notified of a river incident near the Sequoia entrance sign, according to a news release issued by the park.
Park rangers along with Tulare County Fire and Tulare County Sheriff responded to the call.
After entering the park at about 6:45 a.m., the family decided to walk down to the river near the Sequoia entrance sign.
The 5-year-old boy slipped into the river and a 22-year-old man — identified later as Victor Mosqueta — who was with the family jumped in after him.
The parents then jumped in to help, and three fishermen assisted in getting the parents and child out of the water.
The only rescuer who didn’t make it out of the water was Mozqueta.
“After (the 5-year-old) was pulled out, they started doing CPR on the boy,” Webb said.
One of the fishermen and the boy’s father began CPR, and were able to resuscitate the boy, who was then transported by Exeter ambulance up to a Life Flight helicopter and flown out to Kaweah Delta, a hospital in Visalia
The hospital journey took between 30 and 45 minutes, Webb said.
The 22-year-old man who jumped into the river to save the boy did not survive, park officials wrote in their news release.
“His body ( Mozqueta) was not visible after he jumped in, and it took rescuers about two hours to retrieve his body,” they added.
Mozqueta’s death marks the second river fatality to happen inside Sequoia National Park in the last two week, and they were both similar incidents in the same location, according to the news release.
“The issue is not people trying to swim. People and children fall and slip into the river, and family members jump in after them to try to save them,” park officials noted in the release.
“In both cases, the family members who jumped in after the children did not survive,” according to Sequoia District Ranger Dave Fox.
“The rocks are super slick on the river’s edge, and people should avoid getting close to the water,” he said. “Please enjoy the river from a safe distance and away from the slippery rocks.”
Members of Mozqueta’s family described his heroic efforts to save the boy on a GoFundMe page set up to raise money for his family.
The post reads:
“Victor tragically passed away this morning trying to save Vincent Gonzalez (5-year-old) that slipped into the Sequoia National Park. He was the first to jump into the water to save Vincent even though he didn’t know how to swim.
“Vincent’s parents jumped into the water to save him as well but were unable to reach them as the currents were too strong,” said the post, which shows the boy’s name spelled as both Vincent and Vicente. “Somehow, Victor managed to keep Vincent on top of his head even while he was underwater so that Vincent could breathe. He never let go of him even when they went down under the (torrents) a few times.
“The last effort he did was to throw Vincent out of the strong (torrent) so that his father could barely grab him,” the post said. “The boy’s father tried getting Victor out while pushing Vincent but Victor went under the strong current after pushing Vincent out.
“We have no idea how he managed to not let go of Vincent to save his own life. He pushed him out before the current took him,” the post said. “He is Vincent’s angel and a hero to all of us forever. We will forever be grateful for his courage, bravery and unselfish act. We will always miss you, Victor, and you will forever live in our hearts.”
Anyone wishing to donate to the Mozqueta family can visit the GoFundMe site at https://www.gofundme.com/victormyhero