A Florida teenager who sprung into action to rescue a mother and her child from drowning earlier this week has tragically passed away.
Cristian Burgos, 17, rescued a 25-year-old woman and her 9-year-old son who were swimming in Virginia Key Beach Park near Miami and had gotten caught in a strong current Monday. Burgos reportedly ran into the water, rescuing the two, before he was caught in the current himself, according to WFOR-TV.
Burgos was rescued from the water and responders performed CPR before he was rushed to the hospital. He remained in a coma and was taken off life support Wednesday.
“If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be alive right now,” mother Elvia Venegas told WFOR through a translator.
Burgos’ family members said they were unsurprised by his rushing to help the family, saying that was just the kind of person he was.
“He’s always caring about other people,” Nelly Alvarado, his cousin, told WSVN-TV. “So I know he didn’t think twice to go and help the woman and her child.”
“He’s the best son. He’s the most beautiful person I have had,” the teen’s mother, Maria Del Carmen Avenado, said. “He’s a hero. I am happy, and I am sad because I wish this had not happened to him.”
According to WFOR, Avendano is now alone since Burgos’ father has been deported to Nicaragua.
“I feel destroyed,” she said.
Burgos was a senior at Booker T. Washington High School. Teachers told local news outlets that he was a role model for younger students, helping to translate and practice soccer.
“He is going to leave a legacy to his peers to follow in his footsteps, to just be there whenever there is a need,” teacher Dr. Nelson Fernandez said.
“He was able to save the lives of two people while putting his own life at stake,” said principal William Aristide. “No better way to describe him other than the word ‘hero.’”
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help with medical bills. It had raised more than $36,000 by Thursday afternoon.