Local News

Two Drown After Canoe Capsizes At Falls Lake

Posted October 1, 2001 8:37 a.m. EDT

— Two men drowned when their canoe tipped over in Falls Lake, but first were able to help save the 8-year-old boy with them.

Jose Rivera, 21, was sitting on the shore about 100 yards from the boat when it capsized about 4:30 p.m. Sunday and he heard the boy screaming. He ran toward the voice and saw one of the men in the water, holding the boy above his head.

"I went in and brought out the kid on my back," Rivera said in Spanish.

When Rivera turned around after bringing the boy to shore, his friends had slipped beneath the water's surface.

Apparently unaware that 911 dispatchers can handle calls from people who do not speak English, Rivera and the boy's mother, who also was on shore, drove back to Durham to find another friend who speaks English. He called 911 about 5:30 p.m., about an hour after the canoe tipped over.

Rescue workers had pulled both bodies from the lake by late Sunday.

Antonio Parra, who lives next door to the men and called 911, identified them as Fermin Rocha and Jose Hernandez, both in their mid-30s and from the Mexican state of Guanajuato.

Hernandez, who was self-employed, was the father of the 8-year-old boy in the canoe, Joseph, and a baby girl. Joseph was unharmed.

Rocha's friends said he had a wife and two children in Mexico.