GALVESTON, Texas - A Houston father drowned Tuesday night while trying to reach his young son who got swept in the water while kayaking.
According to Galveston police, the father's attempt to rescue his 5-year-old child took place after 7 p.m. on the north side of the bridge at San Luis Pass, a waterway connecting a large bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
The father and son were in a kayak with five other people that included four children under 9 years old. Only two of the children were wearing life jackets.
The boy went into the water amid treacherous swimming conditions, police said. With the boy in distress, the father went in to rescue the child but went under.
The father did not survive, according to police. The boy was pulled out and taken to UTMB hospital, where his condition was stabilized.
Galveston County officials identified the man as 27-year-old Rufino Suarez. They said Suarez was found in almost the exact location where he went under. Beach patrol said neither the father nor the son was wearing a life jacket.
The water has been reported to be rough near San Luis Pass, and the tide is high this time of the year.
"All of the sudden, we started seeing fire trucks that went by in that location," said Terry, an eyewitness.
Terry said he saw a hospital helicopter fly over the area.
San Luis Pass has been noted for conditions unfriendly to swimmers. Last month, a 19-year-old fisherman went missing at the pass. His body was later found.
Steve Burchner leads fishing tours in the area. He said the current can change in an instant.
"My number one rule is do not get in the water without a life jacket," Burchner said.
RELATED: 19-year-old fisherman missing in water at San Luis Pass
Burchner said he wants to see more signs at San Luis Pass warning swimmers.
"It's dangerous here," Burchner said.
Earlier this week, Galveston Island Beach Patrol issued a red flag warning due to the potential for strong rip currents. The patrol singled out San Luis Pass as an area to avoid.
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