Hospitalized teen hailed hero after saving mother, son swimming off Virginia Key

MIAMI (WSVN) - School officials and community members have come together to pull for a teenager in critical condition after he heroically saved a mother and her son at a sandbar off Virginia Key.

City of Miami Police and Fire Rescue crews responded to the Historical Virginia Key Beach on Monday afternoon.

Cristian Burgos, 17, remains hospitalized Tuesday at Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center after he rescued a 9-year-old boy and later tried to pull his 25-year-old mother from the water.

Burgos’ mother has not left her son’s side since he was transported. She said while she is proud of her son, her heart is destroyed and is unsure about his future, but his family sticks together through the pain.

“We still don’t have a solid diagnosis,” Nelly Alvarado, Burgos’ cousin, said. “He is in a coma, but we don’t know if he’s going to get any better, if he’s going to get any worse. They still haven’t told us anything.”

According to fire officials, the mother and son were swimming along a sandbar when a strong current pushed them away from the shore.

“When we saw the mother drowning, was [when we knew] that we had to act fast,” witness Meredith Diaz said.

That’s when Burgos, a senior at Booker T. Washington High School, went into the water to try to save their lives.

Another of Burgos’ cousins told 7News that the brave teen rescued the boy first by pushing him towards the shore before turning back to save the mother.

“I’m not surprised at all that he did that because he’s that kind of person,” Katherin Zamora, Burgos’ cousin, said. “All we need is prayers. Prayers for him to come out of this situation, you know? We have faith that he’ll wake up, that he’ll just start breathing on his own.”

However, he came across trouble himself, and those standing by watching decided to join together to save him.

Speaking in Spanish, one good Samaritan said he described feeling scared, especially when he saw the young man floating in the water. He added that several people held hands and formed a line to try to get to the 17-year-old, but he was too far away, so he and others jumped into the water and pulled him out.

“He was able to save the lives of two people while putting his own life at stake,” said school principal William Aristide. “No other better way to describe him other than the word ‘Hero.'”

Students at the school made banners Tuesday morning recognizing Burgos’ heroic actions. After they made the banners, they headed to the hospital to support their classmate.

“He’s an amazing person,” Mayte Padilla, Burgos’ girlfriend, said. “What he did, I’m so proud of him.”

Aristide and Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho met with Burgos’ family at the hospital.

“I’m both inspired and heartbroken by what I learned, and I could not stay home or continue to enjoy my evening without coming here and embracing and praying alongside these two families,” Carvalho said.

As for the mother and son the teen saved, they were released from the hospital after spending some time being evaluated as a precaution.

“Thank you for helping us,” the 9-year-old said. “You are a kind man.”

The mother said in Spanish she is thankful for the 17-year-old who risked his life to save her and her son.

“If he didn’t help me, my mom would have died,” the 9-year-old son said.

Family members are praying that Burgos opens his eyes soon, so he could see how many people are rooting for him.

“Well, I know he’s going to see this because I know he’s going to wake up,” Alvarado said. “I just want him to know that we love him and that we’re here for him, and we’re just waiting for him. He’s always caring about other people, so I know that he didn’t think twice to go and help the woman and her child.”

Loved ones have set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to cover Burgos’ medical expenses. To donate, click here.

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