FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The family of a Fort Worth mother is still trying to come to grips after she drowned trying to save her 8-year-old son.
It happened Wednesday evening at Trinity River Park, near Interstate-30 and University Drive in Fort Worth.
The young boy would have suffered the same fate as his mother if it weren’t for the brave action of a Good Samaritan who was riding her bike nearby.
Juana Camilleri was riding her bike and had stopped to cool off, when she heard cries for help coming from the river.
While most of the time the water appears very calm and soothing, the current is quite strong.
After spotting 8-year-old Rusbel Martinez in the water, Camilleri dove in and swam toward him. The child had already gone under several times.
“It looks completely harmless… but that little waterfall and then there’s a little sinkhole. You’re pulled down and then you’re being pushed this way and down,” Camilleri explained to CBS 11 News. “When I got to him, I had to reach down, he was starting to go under and had been bobbing up and down.”
Camilleri said she put the boy on her back and swam toward land where another bystander lifted the child to safety.
Meanwhile, the boy’s mother, 35-year old Dania Marinez, who was also in the river, fell victim to the current and was underwater for several minutes. Marinez was also pulled from the water but later died.
When asked about her aquatic abilities Camilleri said despite the fact she’d been swimming almost her entire life, even she found it difficult to keep her head above water.
“There was a moment when I thought ‘I don’t know if I’m going to make it’, but I just pushed that thought out of my mind and said ‘I’m going to make it now matter what’.”
Wednesday’s drowning isn’t the first at that section of the river. There have been at least three drownings there since 2005 and there was a near drowning in 2009.
The Tarrant Regional Water District, which is responsible for the river, has promised to review the area and possibly consider measures to improve safety. A water district spokesman did say however those measures don’t include adding a fence.
At the Martinez home, a small shrine has been erected in memory of Dania Marinez. Relatives say the loss of the 35-year-old mother has left the family devastated.
“She was an angel. She was so nice, so caring,” recalled Dania’s step-daughter Alejandra Ladinos. “The first day I saw her, she looked so delicate, but then I got to know that she was a really strong person.”
A viewing for Dania Martinez is scheduled for Monday night with funeral services to follow Tuesday. A fund to help the family has been established. For more information, call 817-714-2307