LA PORTE, Texas – The bodies of three siblings have been recovered after authorities said they drowned while swimming at a La Porte park.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said four siblings were swimming at Sylvan Beach Park around 7 p.m. Thursday when they were overcome by a wave.
Initially, Gonzalez said the kids – ranging in ages 7 through 13 – had been swimming in the choppy water and swam past a safety buoy and went under.
However, after further investigation, Gonzalez said, “(He was) hearing different things. That maybe a large boat passed by (the siblings) and kind of created a bigger wave … and they went under.”
Someone flagged down a passing sheriff's deputy and alerted her to a possible drowning, according to Gonzalez.
The deputy jumped into action to figure out what had happened, and when she learned there were multiple victims, she called for backup, authorities said.
When authorities arrived, they said the scene was complete chaos.
“Everybody was screaming, yelling,” said deputy Fabian Viruette, with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. “But as law enforcement, we still go to act accordingly and try to figure everything out."
Viruette said the body of one of the siblings floated close to the shore and he jumped into the water to help get her out.
“Once we saw the body close to the shore, that was just instinct to get in and pull the body out, out of respect of the parents,” Viruette said. “(Instinct was) just to pull the baby out - 13 is still a baby - and try to get her ready to go home, I guess.”
One of the 13-year-olds resurfaced, but the others, ages 7, 11 and 12, were not immediately located, authorities said.
Around 9:30 p.m., Gonzalez said two bodies were found. The body of the 7-year-old was found around 11 p.m. Thursday, Gonzalez said.
"Our condolences on behalf of all of us that have been involved out here,” Gonzalez said. “We understand three children have been discovered the latest one right now is a 7-year-old male. Earlier we found a 10-year-old male and also a (12)-year-old female. I understand there was a fourth (who) was transported to the hospital. I don't know the latest condition but told … stable to serious, we're praying that he makes a full recovery.”
Authorities said a woman who witnesses the incident helped pulled the surviving 13-year-old out of the water without the help of law enforcement.
“A park patron that was in here … took it upon themselves to help out and help their neighbor and help their child,” Viruette said. “She actually took on water … and she was transported to the hospital. We're going to get to the bottom of that and figure that out who that was and make sure that she's okay."
The identities of the children have not been released. Investigators are still working to determine exactly what caused the drowning.