SIMI VALLEY ( — Hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil at Royal High School in Simi Valley Wednesday night to honor a 17-year-old boy who drowned over the weekend.

Walter Gonzalez Jr., a junior at Royal, died Sunday while trying to save his parents from the rushing, cold water of the Merced River at Yosemite National Park.

Walter Jr.’s mother, Carmen, said her son didn’t think twice about rescuing her and her husband.

The teen’s parents said their faith will get them through.

“That is my strength now. That he has eternal life and he is with God,” Walter Jr.’s father said through a translator.

“He saved me twice. The first time by taking us to church and secondly, by taking us out of the water,” Carmen said.

KCAL9’s Rachel Kim reported that Walter Jr. was president of the Christian Club, a choir member and a former football player.

“He just appreciated life and God more than any of us,” a student said.

“He was generous. He was a gentleman,” another student said.

Walter Jr.’s funeral will be held Friday.


Simi Valley Teen Drowns In Merced River While Trying To Save Parents


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