Local 24 has confirmed a Mid-South teen died after drowning this weekend in Heber Springs, Arkansas. 17-year-old Orlando Diaz was a soccer player with Germantown Legends Soccer.
Saturday was an idyllic Summer day at Greers Ferry Lake, with hundreds of families enjoying Dam Site Park. But just hours earlier, it was one family’s nightmare.
“If it wouldn’t have been so deep I probably could have helped him,” Jovanny Sendejas said.
Sendejas was at Trouble Island when the landmark earned its name.
“A lady was yelling that she needed help, that her kid was drowning, that they couldn’t find him, that he had sunk,” he said.
According to the Cleburne County Sheriff , a 17-year old boy, whom Local 24 learned was Diaz, slipped and fell into the water.
Sendejas, who just turned 18 Friday, says he tried to help the frantic family.
“I dove a couple times but it was too deep,” he said.
Several agencies, including a dive team, came to rescue the teen around 10:30 Saturday morning. According to park rangers, the teen couldn’t swim and was found 30 feet under water.
“It’s tragic, that’s horrible,” Teresa May said.
May sits at the cliffs where the boy’s body was found.
“Just to know that it was right here, that it was right here,” she said looking around at the busy lake beach.
Now May is keeping a closer eye on the water below.
“When you’re a mom you just kind of look out for everybody’s kids,” she said.
Free life jackets are available to all visitors. The cliffs are speckled with the bright yellow preservers ready to use, but park rangers say Diaz was not wearing one.
“You think you’re invincible. You can do it all,” Sendejas said.
But after witnessing the drowning, he is using the tragedy as a wake-up call.
“It does make me think a little bit more about what i’m going to do before I do it.”
Diaz was sent to a local hospital where was pronounced dead.
The last drowning at Trouble Island was Mother’s Day 2018.