The daughter of a B.C. man who died saving his drowning son wants her father to be remembered for his selfless act.
“I want my dad to be known as a hero,” Zsalve Salazar told Global News, Wednesday. “He was such an amazing person, and he was just gone too soon.”
Arnulf Salazar, a 53-year-old father of four, was at Chehalis Lake on Saturday for a picnic with extended family, when the tragedy happened, Zsalve said.
“It was after lunch, we were just playing in the water, that’s when I noticed (my brother) Zack was just struggling to get up,” she said.
The 10-year-old, who has been diagnosed with non-verbal autism, had strayed beyond a steep dropoff in the lake, she said.
Arnulf rushed into the water and was able to reach his son, who he began pushing towards the shore, she said.
He was able to pass the boy to another bystander who had rushed in to help, but then ran into trouble himself.
“I think with a push my dad fell too behind, and that’s when the current got him,” she said.
“The water is glacier water, so it was freezing cold, and so the current brought him down 20 to 50 feet below, and he was stuck down there for a good 20 minutes.
“People were trying to get him but it was just too dark and too deep to get him.”
Eventually, an experienced diver was able to get deep enough with the help of a rock and a rope and pulled Arnulf from the water.
Despite CPR attempts lasting more than an hour, he could not be revived Zsalve said.
The family has since started a GoFund Me to help with funeral costs and expenses such as speech therapy for her autistic brother.
The campaign has already raised more than $18,000.
“My family and I are more than grateful,” she said.
“Words can never express how grateful we are for the outpouring support.”