Lifestyle & Human Interest

Heroic 17-Year-Old Succumbs to Injuries After Rushing To Save Drowning Mother and Child


A Miami, Florida, teen is being hailed as a hero in the wake of his tragic drowning after he rushed into the water to save the lives of a 9-year-old boy and his mother.

Cristian Burgos, 17, was enjoying a day at Virginia Key beach when he noticed two people had ventured out near a sandbar as strong currents pushed them far from the shore.

It soon became clear that without help, the mother and her son were going to drown, so Burgos immediately leaped into action.

He managed to reach the 25-year-old woman and her child as they struggled against the current, and pushed the little boy back toward the beach before helping his mother.

However, in doing so, he found himself trapped, caught in the dangerous current.

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Onlookers on the beach called for help, and as they waited for first responders to arrive at the scene, several volunteers went in together to rescue Burgos.

One witness told WSVN that those on the beach joined hands and tried to form a chain to perform the rescue.

The woman and the boy both made it back to shore with the help of more beachgoers, but Burgos was barely alive.

“There was one time when I was with him, and they were checking his pupils, and he was responsive,” the teenager’s cousin, Nelly Alvarado, told WPLG.

Maynor Montez, the 9-year-old boy who almost drowned during the incident, said Burgos risked everything to try to save Montez and his mother.

“The water took us. Then I was calling for help,” the boy remembered.

“If he didn’t help me, my mom would have died,” he told WSVN.

“If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be alive right now,” Montez’s mother, Elvia Venegas, said to WFOR-TV. “I am just eternally grateful at this moment.”

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Though he spent hours in a coma fighting for his life, Burgos eventually succumbed to his injuries and passed away after being taken off life support.

In the wake of his heroic actions, he is being remembered for his courage by those who knew and loved him most. Upon hearing the story, his classmates were devastated by the loss, but far from surprised by his selflessness.

“He’s always caring about other people,” said an emotional Alvarado. “I know that he didn’t think twice to go and help.”

“I’m not surprised at all that he did that because he’s that kind of person,” said Katherin Zamora, another of Burgos’ cousins.

The teen’s school principal William Aristide said, “He was able to save the lives of two people while putting his own life at stake. No other better way to describe him other than the word ‘Hero.’”

“He’s the best son. He’s the most beautiful person I have had. He is a hero,” the teenager’s mother, Maria Del Carmen Avendaño, told WFOR in a statement.

Though she was incredibly proud, Burgos was her only son. While she knows he will be remembered as a hero, she said it “doesn’t take away my pain.”

Burgos’ girlfriend, Mayte Padilla, shared that she was not at all surprised to hear the story of his courage.

“He’s an amazing person,” she told WSVN, fighting tears. “What he did, I’m so proud of him.”

“All we need is prayers,” Alvarado added.

In the midst of tragedy, Burgos’ community is taking pride in his character, his courage and his legacy of selflessness.

“He is going to leave a legacy to his peers to follow in his footsteps,” Dr. Nelson Fernandez, a teacher at Booker T. Washington High School, said. “To just be there whenever there is a need.”

The family has set up a GoFundMe page to raise funds for Burgos’ medical bills and funeral expenses and have expressed their thanks for all the support. Our prayers go out for them during this difficult time.

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Laura Stewart was an associate story editor and news and lifestyle contributor for The Western Journal.
Laura Stewart was an associate story editor and news and lifestyle contributor for The Western Journal.
Phoenix, AZ