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‘They’re heroes’: Friend describes 3 Oakland men who died rescuing 8-year-old in Sacramento Delta


SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) – We are learning more about the three men who died rescuing an 8-year-old boy in the California Delta last weekend.

The bodies of the three were found Tuesday in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta near Rio Vista.

VIDEO: Bodies of 3 Oakland men missing in Sacramento Co. drowning incident have been found, officials say

“When the grandfather grabbed the child, he couldn’t swim anymore because he was tired. He threw the child away,” Gerber Figueroa said, describing the moment his longtime friend Edwin Rivas rescued drowning Rivas’ grandson, with the help of two friends, Edwin Perez and Danilo Solorzano.

Sadly, all three lost their lives in last Sunday’s rescue on the Delta.

“To us they are like heroes, they are heroes. They don’t think about anything but saving the 8-year-old boy,” Figueroa said.

Emergency crews from several counties, including San Francisco, recovered the bodies of the three men on Tuesday. Figueroa says Rivas had gone fishing with two of his grandsons along with Perez and Solorzano for the holiday weekend near Brannan Island.

As the three adults were fishing, one of the grandsons jumped into the water and then suddenly began to drown. That’s when the three jumped. The boy survived with two other people in the area who assisted in the rescue.

Rivas, Perez and Solorzano did not survive. Figueroa says the three were longtime friends from Guatemala who loved football. In fact, Rivas, who had lived in the area for more than 30 years, was a football coach in West Oakland.

“Really sad, really sad because I know these guys and they always help the community, try to keep the kids out of trouble and trouble,” Figueroa said.

Although the water current may not seem choppy in the drowning area, the delta is where several waterways meet, which can create strong currents in some places. Figueroa calls for caution.

“If you’re going to take your children in the water, be very careful, use life jackets,” Figueroa said.

Figueroa tells ABC 7 News reporter JR Stone that the boy and the two survivors are having trouble sleeping after all this.

Rivas’ family are now trying to raise funds so they can send the three bodies to Guatemala. There will be a big football fundraiser this Sunday at noon at Raimondi Park in West Oakland. If you would like to donate money to the cause, go here.

If you’re on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live

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