It was supposed to a fun weekend trip in the Sacramento River Delta for a dad and his daughters but the getaway ended in tragedy when the father died trying to save one of his girls from drowning.
Authorities said Roni Avila, 40, drowned when the kayak he and his daughter were in flipped over on Sunday, June 25, 2017.
Investigators say Roni carried Sophie, his 5-year-old daughter, on his shoulders until a jet skier spotted them and rescued her.
Then Roni went underwater and he did not resurface.
Park officials said the river current is notorious for pulling swimmers under into a river that is at least 50 feet deep and full of overgrown weeds. Roni's body was not recovered until nearly nine hours later.
His 11-year old daughter Maria and her sister, Sophie, were swimming and fishing during a family outing. When the afternoon waters turned choppy from boats and jet skis, Maria watched in horror from the shore as her father's kayak, carrying him and Sophie flipped on top of them.
Maria said her father and her sister were not wearing life jackets but Roni was an experienced swimmer who was able to pull Sophie up to the surface.
Maria's aunt told KTVU that last month Roni saw a car on fire on the freeway and he helped pull a woman from inside the burning vehicle by breaking a window. His family said Roni always thought of others first...
"He has always been a good dad," said Maria. "He worked hard for us. He didn't give up on his job, he works on construction and scaffolding, and even if he had to stay extra hours, he did it for us just so that we could have fun on the weekends and we really appreciate what he did for us."
This is such a heartbreaking tragedy for Roni's children and loved ones. Our deepest sympathies are with them. Rest well Roni...
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