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Teenage Heroes | GoFundMe started for Beaumont teen who drowned helping dad save little girl

Jaerson Alvarez and Wilmer Rodriquez jumped in to help but they never surfaced

BEAUMONT, Texas — A GoFundMe fundraiser has been started to help with funeral expenses for two Beaumont teens who drowned while helping a father save a child on the Trinity River in Liberty County.

Jaerson Alvarez and Wilmer Alexi Rodriquez are being called heroes after selflessly jumping in to help the little girl.

Liberty County Sheriff’s Capt. Ken Defoor said several families were at the river Sunday evening when the 5-year-old girl in the water needed help. 

The girl’s father jumped in to save her, and so did Alvarez, 18, and Rodriquez, 17. 

The teens, who deputies say were not related to the family, disappeared in the water and never resurfaced. Their bodies were found Monday morning in about 45 feet of water, Defoor said. 

Searchers used side scan sonar to find them.

RELATED: Sheriff's office: 2 Beaumont teens drown in Trinity River while helping a dad save his little girl

The organizer of the GoFundMe fundraiser tells 12News the money will go toward helping the families with funeral expenses. 

He says the majority Rodriquez's family is in Honduras and is hoping the money raised will allow the remains to be sent to his mother for a "last goodbye".

Defoor said this spot of the river is a dangerous place to swim because it looks calm, but there is always a strong undercurrent. About a dozen people have drowned in the same area in recent years.

To add to the danger, the river bottom is full of large holes that catch people off guard.

"You can go from waist-deep water and step off into a hole that is 40 to 50 feet deep," Defoor said.

In the last several years, large signs have been posted along the river’s edge warning the public of the dangers. But Defoor said people tear them down and use them for camp fires. 

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