Caught on video: Man jumps in Comal River to save teen from dam backwash

'She was just rolling and rolling'

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas – Charging along the top of the dam, Adan Sanchez leaped into the churning waters of the Comal River to save a stranger.

His wife caught Sanchez's leap on camera, as well as a girl struggling in the backwash of a small dam just downstream of the popular New Braunfels City Tube Chute. Sanchez said he was able to grab onto the girl and get both of them clear of the roiling waters.

"She could have drowned," Sanchez said. "She was going under. I think her feet were sideways, and she was just rolling and rolling. She'd come up and go back down."

Sanchez, a U.S. Border Patrol agent who was vacationing with his family, had been relaxing on the river bank downstream of the popular City Tube Chute when, he said, a woman came running past.

"She grabbed a noodle, those floaty noodle things, jumped in," Sanchez said. "And someone started yelling, 'Little girl's drowning over there. Little girl's drowning.'"

Sanchez and his wife, Delia, said it was not crowded when the incident happened, and the city's park rangers weren't around. So if anybody was going to help that girl, it was going to be a bystander.

At first, Sanchez said he came over just in case, but when the girl's mother jumped too far past the girl to save her, he jumped in too.

"Kind of hoping somebody would have done it if my child was drowning as well," he said. "So, I don't know. I just reacted. I just did it. I don't know why. I just did it."

On the shore, Delia Sanchez didn't realize what her husband was doing until he jumped.

"At first I was like 'OK, he's going to save her.' But then I realized, you know, like, 'What if something happens to him right there?'" she said.

The water was not very deep, he said, but it was strong.

"It was just constant pushing, pushing, trying to fight it. It was tough," Sanchez said.

Sanchez grabbed onto the girl, and he thinks he was able to push off the bottom a little, getting them out of the seething water that had trapped the girl.

The teen is hardly the first to get in those waters, and a line of buoys upstream keeps the majority of people from going over the dam.

"You used to see that on a regular basis, where people would get kind of caught up in that white water, that undertow," New Braunfels police Lt. Jacob Pullen said. "But since those buoys got put in there, it's a very rare occurrence now."

When it does happen, though, it's good to have someone like Sanchez nearby.

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About the Author:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.