Witness relives horrifying last moments near canal

Canal witness

In a neighborhood filled with laughter from children playing in the streets, the mood has changed drastically.

One of their playmates is gone.

Residents of Toucan Street in North McAllen are stunned. Elvira Medina still can't believe what she saw.

"I don't know what I thought. I was in shock, I thought he was playing around in the water."

Elvira says she quickly realized her 7-year-old neighbor John Perri was struggling to stay afloat after he'd fallen into the irrigation canal a block from where they live. He had been playing with her little brother and another child.

"He went down and then came up again and he had bubbles in his mouth, and then I saw him stop moving and he went back under."

There is now a cross placed here at the exact spot he fell in by his parents right next to a piece of plywood used by another child who tried to pull the boy to safety.

"The 1st grader had the stick and he tried to pull it, but he's small so he couldn't pull it. I tried to reach him, but he had moved down the canal and if I had gone any further I would have fallen in."

The girl then ran through the neighborhood alerting parents and that's when she says John's mom and dad made a frantic dash to the canal along with other members of their small subdivision. It was too late, the current had pushed the child away.

Leticia Mariscal says, "When I was looking for the child, if I had seen him, I would have jumped in to help him too but I didn't see anything."

As authorities continue the search for the 2nd grader's body, the children who knew him are trying to make sense of what happened.

"It TMs really scary watching someone in the water dying in front of you," says Elvira.

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