MIAMI (WSVN) - The parents of a teenager who died after saving a mother and her child from drowning off Virginia Key have received his high school diploma as a tribute.

Diplomas were handed out to graduating high school seniors at Miami Jackson Senior High School, Booker T. Washington Senior High School and iPrep Academy on Thursday.

The parents of Cristian Burgos attended Booker T. Washington’s ceremony to receive his high school diploma.

On Sept. 30, 2019, the 17-year-old Burgos saved a woman and her 9-year-old son after a strong current pushed them away from shore in Virginia Key. Burgos was pulled out of the water by two bystanders and rushed to the hospital.

He died after two days in a coma.

“I’m very happy to have this way to be able to remember and honor my son, this memorabilia, to be able to remember my son’s memory,” Misael Burgos, Cristian’s father, said through a translator.

“As a father, as an educator, a superintendent, it’s heartbreaking, it’s heartbreaking to lose one of your kids,” Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said. “I feel it in my heart. I felt it back in September, and I felt it again today, and there’s nothing that we can do to console the anguish and the feeling of loss those parents felt. That is why we did the very least we could do, which was by honoring his life with a much-deserved diploma and this community’s recognition. Cristian was and is a hero to all of us.”

“What gives me strength is knowing that my son passed away saving the lives of two strangers,” Maria del Carmen, Cristian’s mother, said. “I feel like a tornado has gone through my body, and the only thing that makes me feel better and gives me strength is knowing that he did this, and that he didn’t die in vain. He did this for two strangers, and he would have done this — and that’s just the kind of person that he is — he would have done this for anybody.”

To keep their son’s memory alive, the family will set up a foundation to help students who are struggling financially and have performed heroic acts in their community.

Copyright 2024 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox