GALVESTON, Texas – The weekend trip to the beach began like many others.
Brian Tell took his four youngest children from their home in Baytown to Bolivar Peninsula, near Gilchrest, Saturday afternoon.
The younger three kids flew kites while their older brother, 16-year-old Salem Joy, put on his goggles and looked for fish in the shallow water. Before they realized what had happened, family members and bystanders “started hearing screaming in the distance, but it was muffled,” sister Isabella Flores said.
A bystander noticed the struggling teenager first and alerted their father.
“And basically said, ‘he’s drowning!’” Flores said. “And he ran into the water very fast.”
Flores said her dad was a strong swimmer, but the rip current that swept her brother away took her father under too.
“It’s just devastating,” said Flores, who is pregnant with her first child. “He really should be honored for going into the water to try to save him.
Flores, the oldest of five children, was the only sibling not at the beach that afternoon. Family members and other witnesses told her what happened.
Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset confirmed that Brian Tell, 32, and Salem Joy, 16 drowned Saturday evening near Gilchrist in an apparent rip current.
“I loved him very much,” Flores said of her brother. “When I went through the hardest times in my life, he was there.”
“He was just like a 16-year-old that liked to play video games,” she added. “He was very sensitive, and sweet and compassionate, and he cared about everybody he got involved with.”
“He was a family man,” Flores said of her father. “He always strived to do his best to take care of the kids, and be there.”
Tell was a truck driver. He had one biological son and was step-father to the older four children.
NOAA estimates that around 100 Americans drown in rip currents every year. If you find yourself in one, swim parallel to the shore to get out.