A deceased teen is being hailed as a hero by his father after he drowned while attempting to rescue his brother who had entered the Sacramento River to retrieve a football. According to KCRA, 15-year-old Amari, together with his 13-year-old brother, Elijah, and their mother, Yolanda Sashe, had gone to the location on Sunday to spend some family time.
The brothers did not have initial intentions of entering the river, but after their football got into the water while playing on the beach, Elijah attempted to retrieve it. The 13-year-old, however, got distressed in the water, causing Amari to jump in, trying to rescue his brother.
“I see them and their heads are just bobbing on the water,” Yolanda recalled. “Them sitting there, I knew they were in distress. And it was nothing. No question to be asked. You gotta go get them. That’s it.”
The boys’ mother also jumped into the water after her sons were unable to swim out safely. “It turned really bad very fast,” said Yolanda. “It was straight thrashing you back and forth back and forth. You cannot fight. You can’t go against the current… It drags you down.”
The deceased teen’s family said even rescue crews had issues with the difficult conditions of the river. “That river’s for nobody,” Amari and Elijah’s father, James Sashe, said. “If it’s hard for them, how do normal people make it?”
Yolanda also opened up on the moment her son disappeared. “I looked down at him and I looked up and I felt his hands drop,” she recalled. “Something came and pulled him away from me and he was gone.”
Sacramento Fire Department official, Capt. Justin Sylvia, said anyone who enters the water this year can struggle because of conditions such as higher water levels, colder water temperatures, and the swift current, per KCRA.
“You could be walking out and it could be just up to your knees — water level-wise — and you could just fall right in after that,” said Sylvia. “There’s these huge step-offs that we’ve been finding out there.”
Sylvia also spoke about the challenges they faced during their attempt to rescue Amari. “Our trained rescue swimmers were out there and they had to rotate quite frequently,” Sylvia said. “It gets very tiring when you’re out there searching for someone and trying to swim in that current.”
Amari’s body was recovered later that night, and the location was close to where he jumped into the river. Elijah and his mom were eventually saved by boaters in the area. A GoFundMe has since been set up to help raise funds for Amari’s burial and funeral expenses.
“I need it to be known that Amari was a hero,” James said. “He died a hero and that’s a death that most people never get to experience … He did it at 15 years old.”