A Pennsylvania man is being hailed as a hero after he died while rescuing two children he saw struggling to stay afloat in a creek at a state park on Thursday.
According to reports, Marvin Alexan Fernandez Chicas, 37, reacted to the situation by jumping into the water and helping the two children reach the shore. He was unable to reach safety, however, and drowned in the treacherous water.
I’m covering a drowning today on Lake Nockamixon. The victim, 37-year-old Marvin Fernandez-Chicas, dove into the water to save 2 kids who hiked down from this bridge to swim illegally, but got in trouble in the water. They made it out, he didn’t. Story on @69News tonight at 4 & 6 pic.twitter.com/vdHDOmpePT
— Rob Manch (@RobManch) June 30, 2023
Local authorities concluded that the conditions in the Tohickon Creek area — particularly Lake Nockamixon — are not appropriate for swimmers. Haycock Township Fire Chief Harry Grim advised that there is “zero visibility” in these waters at this point in the season.
“Divers at 10 feet cannot see their own hands in front of their face,” he said. “So the chances of us finding them and being able to retrieve them and have them recover are pretty much slim to none.”
In the incident involving Chicas, Grim led a team of divers who searched the water for about two hours before recovering his body.
“We had about 10 divers,” he said. “Multiple boats from Point Pleasant, Bucks County, Haycock Fire Company, the Palisades Regional, and stuff. The guys did a great job.”
Authorities were first alerted to the situation in a 911 call from the two children, he explained.
“They apparently got in some trouble in the water, he went in to help them,” Grim said. “Unfortunately he can’t swim. The kids got out, he did not.”
He used the tragic incident as a reminder for other locals to obey restrictions put in place to keep people safe.
“Unfortunately, people don’t follow the rules,” the fire chief added. “And the sad reality is it’s not a smooth, gradual slope under the water, and they step off into a deep area, they take a gulp of water, and they die unfortunately. It shouldn’t happen, but it does.”
According to the Bucks County coroner’s office, Chicas “disappeared in the water” following the harrowing rescue. His cause of death was listed as drowning.
In a statement from coroner Meredith Buck, the office offered “its deepest condolences” to his family.