Friend Remembers Teen Who Drowned Saving Parents

The 17-year-old Simi Valley resident was on a family trip to Yosemite National Park when he was caught in the Merced River.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A Simi Valley high school student is being remembered as a hero after dying while helping save his parents' from drowning in the Merced River during a family outing in Yosemite. Gordon Tokumatsu reports from Simi Valley for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 26, 2014. (Published Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014)

    A 17-year-old Simi Valley teenager who drowned Sunday during a family trip to Yosemite National Park is being remembered as a hero.

    Royal High School junior Walter Gonzalez Jr. had jumped into the Merced River after his mother had fallen in. His father had jumped in to save her, but both were in trouble, so Gonzalez jumped in to push both to safety. Both parents were saved, but Gonzalez didn’t make it out of the river.

    "It didn’t (surprise me.) It didn’t. I know he was a good kid," Gonzalez’s childhood friend Jonathan Cruz said. "He never had hatred in his heart for anyone."

    Cruz said his friend didn’t know how to swim well.

    Gonzalez had played football for Royal High School his freshman and sophomore year. He was president of the school’s Christian Club and a member of the school choir.

    Though school was out for spring break, students organized a vigil at the Royal High School football field to remember Gonzalez Wednesday. Cruz planned to perform a Christian song called "How He Loves Us," a song the two of them often played together.

    A public viewing will be held for Gonzalez Thursday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Rose Family Funeral Home in Simi Valley. Gonzalez’s funeral is scheduled for Friday.
     

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