11-year-old girl describes Bay Area dad's heroism during tragic kayak accident

RIO VISTA, Calif. -- A San Francisco man drowned while kayaking south of Rio Vista on Sunday afternoon after helping to save his daughter.

The man, who has been identified by the Sacramento County coroner's office as 40-year-old Roni Avila Alvarado, was kayaking with his 5-year-old daughter in Three Mile Slough, part of the Brannan Island State Recreation Area, when their kayak overturned, according to Sacramento County sheriff's Sgt. Tony Turnbull.

Both Alvarado and the girl went under initially, but he surfaced with her and held her above the water until she could be picked up by a good Samaritan on a jet ski in the area.

He then went under again and did not resurface. Neither the father nor the daughter wore a life jacket.

The incident was reported a little before 2:30 p.m. A search was conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard and Solano County and Sacramento County units. Alvarado's body was recovered a little after 11 p.m.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help the family. Click here if you'd like to help.

California Life Jacket Law:

Under California law, every child under 13 years of age on a moving recreational vessel of any length must wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket in serviceable condition and of a type and size appropriate for the conditions and the activity. The law does not apply to children under 13 years of age who are:

  • On a sailboat and are constrained by a harness tethered to the sailboat
  • In an enclosed cabin
  • On a vessel engaged in an emergency rescue situation

Click here for full information about California's life jacket law.
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