SIMI VALLEY ( — A 17-year-old Simi Valley boy drowned in the Merced River at Yosemite National Park on Sunday while trying to rescue his parents.

Carmen Gonzalez, the mother of Walter Gonzalez Jr., said she just wanted to get her feet wet in the river when she suddenly went underwater.

Her husband, Walter Sr., went in after her, but was overcome by the cold water in an area known as Devil’s Elbow.

Walter Jr. jumped in to save his parents.

“He pushed his mom out and his mom was able to get out. [His dad] was already drowned, so he wasn’t even moving. The son gave him the last push to get him close to the edge,” family member Sabrina Houser said.

Houser said once the parents were out of the water, they realized Walter Jr. was caught in a whirlpool.

“The water was just too cold and when she looked back into the water, her son wasn’t there with her,” Houser said.

Walter Jr., a junior at Royal High School, was the president of the Christian Club, a member of the choir, a former football player and according to his parents, a loving son.

“We know right now that Walter is with God,” Houser said.

A candlelight vigil for Walter Jr. will be held at Royal High School at 7 p.m. Wednesday.


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