San Jacinto River claims 3 lives in 2 drowning incidents

CROSBY – On Sunday the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said it was searching for a man who went missing while swimming across the San Jacinto River on Sunday.

Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said the man, believed to be about 50 years old, was at Magnolia Gardens Park on the west side of the river when he swam to a small island in the river. He said the man then tried to swim across to the other side of the river but it’s unknown if he made it.

Gonzalez said the HCSO marine unit helped with the rescue efforts.

This is the second drowning incident this weekend in the same area. On Saturday, two children went under the water, and did not resurface.

A family is mourning the loss of two children after authorities said they drowned in the San Jacinto River near the Extreme Off Road Park and Beach on Gulf Pump Road in the Crosby area.

“It’s very distraught. We do have a Chaplin here that is with the family to help them get through this difficult time and our condolences go out to the family,” said Major Jesse Razo with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies received a call around 9 p.m. on Saturday regarding a 6-year-old boy and 12-year-old girl, who went missing in the water near the park. Officials said the children were swimming, went under and never came back up.

A Marine and Dive Team deployed a robot with sonar capabilities to search the area. It found two bodies in the water. Deputies also used a K-9 during the search.

“Our divers went in and did recover two bodies. They did match the description of the children who were in the water,” Razo said.

Just last month, a good Samaritan drowned in the same area after he and several men jumped in the water to save a woman who was swimming at night. The woman and the other men made it out safely.

“You shouldn’t swim at night especially in a river. The river is unpredictable… you never know it’s always changing,” Steven Wingate said.

Experts said these are several drowning prevention tips:

–Wear a life jacket

–Learn CPR

–Use the buddy system

–Know the risk of natural waters

–Avoid alcohol

–Don’t hyperventilate or hold your breath for a long time

These are steps Wingate already practices with his family.

“When you are around the water you have to watch your children because sometimes the boats pull up there, and it creates a hole with the propellers when they leave. Those holes can get deep, so you really have to watch your children because they can be gone like that,” he said.

The Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office will verify the identity of the victims.

Xtreme Off-Road Park said the drownings occurred at the marina side of the river and not on the part owned by the park.

“Last night 2 young children drowned at the Marina side, not Xtreme Off-Road. We want to ask parents to please keep an eye on their children! The river is already a dangerous place itself, let alone at night and being left alone like these kids were. Sadly their parents were not there to watch them, this could have been avoided. Condolences to the family.”