12-year-old girl drowns in San Jacinto River while trying to rescue mother

HOUSTON – The body of a 12-year-old girl who was last seen in San Jacinto River was recovered Sunday afternoon, officials said.

Harris County sheriff's deputies searched for the girl for nearly two hours at Magnolia Garden Park in the 12000 block of Beach Street.

It all started when the 12-year-old and another girl tried to rescue her mother who was struggling to swim in the San Jacinto river.

Bessy Lozano spoke with the 12-year-old's aunt.

“They were all swimming and all of a sudden the mom started to drown, so she jumped in to help her,” Lozano said. “They were able to get the mom out, but the 12-year-old drowned.”

The other girl was rescued by swimmers who came by to help and was sent to a nearby hospital. Her condition is unknown at this time.

Authorities said the 12-year-old was a victim of what you cannot see in the river bed -- deadly holes.

“She went into a hole on the beach and disappeared and never came back up,” said Capt. Don Stanton of the Harris County Sheriff’s Marine Unit.  

These holes form from turbulence and boats that dock on a beach. Stanton said they’re called washouts.

“The current just keep making it bigger and bigger,” Stanton said. “Experts say when you go into the deep holes you either yell or take a breath. When you take a breath, you ingest that water and then they're gone after that.”

Though everyone was in the waist-deep water, the 12-year-old disappeared.

“Her niece was at arm's length and then all of a sudden she was gone,” Lozano said the aunt told her. 

Experts said if you find yourself in a hole, do not breathe and fight your way to the top. 

A warning to all swimmers -- authorities said there are no life guards along the San Jacinto River. The currents are treacherous and the holes can claim lives. 

Experts also advise that you don’t go in the water without a life vest if you can't swim.

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