The old saying that “blood is thicker than water” alludes to the fact that when it comes to family, for many people, nothing is more important in life than that close unit.
Victor was only 22 himself but he was extremely close with his brother’s son, Vincent. That close connection went way beyond the fact that these family members’ first names began with a V. Ultimately, Victor would prove to be a complete hero…
Victor was a hard worker, and while he wasn’t what you’d call wealthy, he was a responsible person, and also a great brother as well as an interactive uncle. Meanwhile, his sister-in-law Anita was so busy in life she barely had time to think.
Victor himself worked most of the hours that God gives, but on weekends he would often go to visit his brother and spend time with Vincent. He was aware of how busy Anita was and wanted to give her a well-deserved break as well as some time off…
It was a normal enough Saturday, or so everyone assumed when Victor decided it was the perfect California day for a walk by the river. On this day, Carmen and her husband came along for the walk but Victor and Vincent walked up ahead as they usually did.
Sequoia National Park
The Sequoia National Park is a national park in Sierra Nevada, California. Established back in 1895, the park spans a whopping 404,064 acres and is most famous for its indigenous giant sequoia trees, including the General Sherman tree, the largest tree on Earth.
The weather was fine as Victor strolled with Vincent alongside the Kaweah River inside the national park. Uncle and nephew chatted and laughed together as they strolled and the time passed by.
As any parent will tell you, it only takes one moment of distraction; a text message or even just getting lost in thought can mean the difference between life and death where young kids are involved. Tragically, Victor and Vincent were about to share one such tragic moment…
It wasn’t Victor’s fault, the two were walking on a narrow part of the riverside. Vincent lost his footing and fell straight into the Kaweah River. But there was one problem: Victor never learned to swim.
Victor didn’t even consider his own safety for a moment; not even a split second. As soon as saw his nephew thrashing about in the river, he jumped in, knowing he was putting his own life at risk by doing so…
Victor Gonzalez’s actions that day can only be described as heroic. With no regard for his own life, Victor went under the water, pushing his nephew above the surface so that at least one of them could have air to breathe.
By this stage, Victor had been underwater for a while but in his bravery, he had kept little Vincent above water for the most part. Vincent’s father and the fishermen administered CPR on him and were able to get him breathing again in time for the medics to arrive…
Never Let Go
Victor, according to his sister, never let go of her son for a moment, “He never let go of Vincent even when they went down under the [currents] a few times,” she said. Even though Victor had never learned to swim as a kid, and had a fear of water, he wasn’t about to let his nephew perish…
All Hands On Deck
Everyone was trying to save little Vincent from drowning. His parents also jumped into the river when they realized what was going on. Three fishermen who were fishing nearby also came into the fray to try and help.
In order to save the little boy’s life, he needed to be airlifted by a Life Force helicopter to the Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia for further treatment and observation. While things were rocky for a time, thankfully, the boy started to recover and ultimately made a full recovery in a short time.
While it’s nothing short of a miracle that Vincent’s life was saved, and only just, unfortunately, Victor lost his life after he drowned in the river. Anita said in a statement, “Words cannot express how thankful I am to have my son back because of the selfless act he did for my son.”
Second In Two Weeks
As it turns out, that particular location inside the Sequoia National Park is a treacherous one. Just two weeks earlier and another fatally occurred there due to the slippery rocks. Sequoia District Ranger Dave Fox said, “The rocks are super slick on the river’s edge, and people should avoid getting close to the water.”
A Kind Soul
Following his tragic and untimely death, family members spoke about Victor, and in the most Stirling terms. His brother-in-law, Ivan Gonzalez said of him, “He would always do things for others. That’s just the way he was raised.”
Victor was also very close with his sister Maria. She spoke about her brother, as she tried to hold back her tears of grief, “Victor was a happy person, humble caring, loving, respectful, laid back and friendly. He loved going outdoors and being next to nature,” she said, adding, “He loved playing his guitar, singing, soccer and hiking.”
As another tribute, as well as to raise money for Victor’s funeral expenses, his family launched a GoFundMe page. So far, that page has been a roaring success, having already raised in excess of $44,000.
For her part, Maria, Victor’s sister, was totally devastated by the sudden and tragic loss of her brother. Speaking to reporters, she said, “He didn’t deserve to do die like that…He didn’t.” The loss was felt deeply by all of Victor’s family, and the way he lost his life made it even worse.
As tragic as this story is, it does highlight the bravery of one dedicated uncle to his nephew. It’s uncanny to think that a person could pay the ultimate price and sacrifice their own life to save that of another.