On Monday, Cristian Burgos, 17, a senior at Miami’s Booker T. Washington High School, saved a woman and her 9-year-old son after a strong current pushed them away from shore at a beach in Miami-Dade County.
Burgos himself was pulled under by the current and had to be rescued.
He died Wednesday.
“I am broken,” Carmen Avendaño, the teen’s mother said Wednesday night in Little Havana where numerous friends and relatives gathered for a somber memorial for her son.
The tragic chain of events began at Virginia Beach Monday afternoon when Burgos went to help the 25-year-old woman and her son who had been pushed away from shore in the choppy waters by a strong current.
After jumping into the water, Burgos first saved the 9-year-old boy before rescuing the child’s mother, Elvia Venegas.
“If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be alive right now,” Venegas later told WFOR-Ch. 4.
But Burgos got into distress himself — getting caught in the rough surf and being pulled under water.
Miami Fire Rescue crew members took the teen to the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital in critical condition.
Shortly after Burgos died Wednesday, his family issued a statement reported by WFOR:
“Our little hero has passed away less than 10 minutes ago. We want to thank you all who have been praying for his supernatural recovery. Thank you all who have been donating to help his mother, from the bottom of our hearts. We ask you to keep us the family, especially his mother in your prayers. God bless you all.”
A GoFundMe page has been launched to help with funeral expenses.
As family members plan for the teen’s funeral, they are also appealing to U.S. officials for a humanitarian visa for his father who was deported to Nicaragua six months ago.
Sun Sentinel news partner Univision contributed to this report.
(c)2019 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.