Santa Rosa man drowns while saving stepson's life

Canal drowning

What was intended to be a quiet day fishing ended in tragedy as a stepfather dives into a canal to save his stepson from drowning.

The man saved his son, but never made it out of the canal alive.

The canal is just north of Santa Rosa off FM 1425 and is a seemingly peaceful place that many locals frequent.

"People go out there, which is common, either to go fishing or to get some bait," said Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio.

Unfortunately that can lead to a dangerous situation.

Sunday evening, 47-year-old Fernando Vasquez and his stepson Daniel Barrones went fishing there.

Their net got caught along the canal banks and Barrones fell in trying to free it.

"He doesn TMt know how to swim, so his stepfather jumped into the water to help him out," said Sheriff Omar Lucio.

Vasquez managed to save Barrones, but didn't make out alive.

Sheriff Lucio said canal drownings happen more often than people realize.

"Even though you are a good swimmer- unless you are an extraordinary swimmer, the current is too strong. It TMs going to carry you and take you under," he said.

Sheriff Lucio told Action 4 News people should be very careful when spending time around canal banks. He suggests people use a life vest.

"Very few people take that extra precaution and I think they should. Regardless if you know how to swim. They should do something like that because it may prevent an accident-a tragic accident like this."

Sheriff Lucio said Santa Rosa and Weslaco firefighters found Vasquez overnight after searching for about three hours.