RIO VISTA, Calif. (WSVN) — A family’s weekend trip on the water ended in tragedy, after a father died while trying to save one of his daughters from drowning.
KTVU reports that 40-year-old Roni Avila drowned when the kayak he and his daughter were in flipped over on Sunday. Investigators said Avila carried his 5-year-old daughter Sophie on his shoulders until a jet skiier spotted them and rescued the little girl.
After his daughter was safe, the current pulled Avila underwater, and he never resurfaced. His body was found 9 hours later.
“I still don’t want to believe it. I really don’t want to,” his 11-year-old daughter Maria said tearfully. “I want this all to be just a dream, but it’s not.”
The family had gone to the Sacramento River to swim and fish for the weekend. But when the waters turned choppy, Maria watched in horror from the shore as her father’s kayak flipped on top of them.
Maria told KTVU that her father and sister were not wearing life jackets, but said Avila was an experienced swimmer and pulled Sophie to the surface.
Park officials said the river current is notorious for pulling swimmers underwater.
His daughter said Avila worked hard to provide for his family, working extra hours at his construction job so they could have extra money for family outings.
“He did it for us just so that we could have fun on the weekends and we really appreciate what he did for us,” Maria told KTVU.
The family created a GoFundMe page to help pay for Avila’s funeral expenses.
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