'They are heroes': Friend describes 3 Oakland men who died saving 8-year-old in Sacramento Delta

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ByJ.R. Stone via KGO logo
Thursday, July 7, 2022
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We're learning more about the three men from Oakland who died rescuing an 8-year-old boy in the Sacramento river Delta last weekend.

SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- We're 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 recovered Tuesday in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta near Rio Vista.

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

"When the grandpa grabbed the kid he cannot swim anymore cause he was tired. He throwed the kid," said Gerber Figueroa as he described the moment that his longtime friend Edwin Rivas saved Rivas' 8-year-old grandson from drowning, with the help of two friends, Edwin Perez, and Danilo Solorzano.

Sadly the three lost their life during the rescue last Sunday on the Delta.

"For us they are like heroes, they are heroes. They don't think about nothing else but to save the little boy the 8-year-old little boy," said Figueroa.

Emergency crews from multiple counties including San Francisco, recovered the three men's bodies Tuesday. Figueroa says that 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 in the water then suddenly, began drowning. That was when the three jumped in. The boy survived along with two others in the area who helped with the rescue.

Rivas, Perez, and Solorzano didn't make it. Figueroa says the three were lifelong friends from Guatemala who loved soccer. In fact Rivas, who had lived in the area for 30 plus years, coached soccer in West Oakland.

"Real sad, real sad cause I know these guys and they always help the community, try to keep the kids out of trouble and problems," said Figueroa.

While the water current may not look rough in the area of the drownings, the Delta is where multiple waterways come together which can make for strong currents in certain spots. Figueroa is urging caution.

"If you guys going to take your kids to the water be real, real careful, use lifejackets," said Figueroa.

Figueroa tells ABC 7 News Reporter J.R. Stone the boy and the two survivors are having trouble sleeping after all of this.

Rivas' family is now trying to raise money so they can send the three bodies to Guatemala. There will be a big soccer fundraiser this Sunday at noon in Raimondi Park in West Oakland. If you'd like to donate money to the cause, visit here.

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