California Father Sacrifices Own Life to Save Drowning Son

February 5, 2018 Updated: February 5, 2018

A California man gave his life to save his son when a bike ride alongside a dangerous aqueduct turned deadly.

The names of the 31-year-old man and his 9-year-old son have not been released.

The pair were spending the afternoon riding together along the California Aqueduct near Ranchero Road and 11th Avenue in Hesperia on Feb. 4 when the boy fell in.  

‘He said that he and his father were riding along the side of the aqueduct when he said that he lost control of his bicycle and he fell in,” San Bernadino County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Cindy Bachman told ABC7.

The stretch of aqueduct where the boy fell in the recovered bike is visible on the bank (ABC7 screenshot)
The stretch of aqueduct where the boy fell in and the recovered bike is visible on the bank. (Screenshot via ABC7)

The boy’s father immediately leaped into the cold, fast-moving water to save his son.

“It’s just a tragic accident. A boy falling in and a man doing what any reasonable man would do. He jumped in to save his life,” Bachman told CBS News.

(ABC7 screenshot)
(ABC7 screenshot)

With the help of his father, the child made it to the bank and crawled to safety. His father disappeared beneath the water’s dark surface.

Police were called just before 1 p.m. Workers shut down the water flow through the aqueduct to allow rescue divers to search for the missing man.

Divers found the child’s bike near where both had gone in.

Divers recovered the body a short distance downstream from where they found the boy's bike. ((ABC7 screenshot))
Divers recovered the body a short distance downstream from where they found the boy’s bike. (Screenshot via ABC7)

Around 4:30 p.m. divers recovered the man’s lifeless body a little farther downstream.    

Members of the victim’s family were nearby and rushed to the scene when they heard him shouting for help, but before anyone could do anything, the man had been swept out of sight.

The sides of the aqueduct are steep and slippery, and the fence protecting it is studded with warning signs telling people to stay clear. Bicycles and cars are banned from the banks of the aqueduct, but pedestrians are free to use it—at their own risk.

(ABC7 screenshot)
(Screenshot via ABC7)

Bachman told ABC7, “It’s very cold, it moves very fast and, again, it’s hard to find anything to grasp onto.”

(ABC7 screenshot)
(Screenshot via ABC7)

At least six people drowned in the stretch of the aqueduct near Hesperia in 2017. Still, it remains a popular place for people to fish, sit, and walk their dogs.


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