A selfless rescue effort by a group of men in Houston ― including three brothers ― turned tragic after their boat drifted into live power lines, killing two and sending five others vanishing downstream.
As of Thursday, two of the men remained unaccounted for after the boat, fresh from rescuing two families from Hurricane Harvey’s floodwaters, headed into the downed lines around 3 p.m. on Monday, The Washington Post reported. The three others are hospitalized after a harrowing night clinging to a tree.
“Everybody told them to stay, that they had already done their part,” Stepheny Jacquez, 25, a relative of some of the victims, told the Post. “But they said, ‘No, we have to go back, there’s a lot of people in danger.’”
It was during their third trip out that the men lost control of their boat in the strong current, sending them into the live wires, Jacquez said.
“They all jumped in the water and got electrocuted, and the current took them,” she told the Post.
Family identified the two fatalities online and to the Post as Yahir Vizueth, 25, and Jorge Perez, 31. Vizueth’s brother, Benjamin Vizueth, 31, and family friend Gustavo Rodriguez-Hernandez, 40, are missing after being swept away in the water.
A third brother, Jose Vizueth, 30, was found clinging to a tree on Tuesday with burns, along with news photographer Ruaridh Connellan, 26, and reporter Alan Butterfield. The journalists ― on assignment for the London-based news site, The Daily Mail.com ― had just joined the five men as they were embarking on the third rescue mission.
Connellan, who spoke with The Telegraph from a hospital room on Wednesday, recalled everyone jumping off the boat and into the fast-moving water upon seeing the craft approaching sparks emitted by the power lines.
“I just felt this electric current go through my body and I thought I was done for,” he said. “Then it stopped but it started again. I could see four of the men lying in the water ― one of them, floating on his back in his lifejacket.”
Connellan said he and the two other men scrambled to grab hold of anything they could as they were pulled by what he estimated as a 30 mph current.
Butterfield and Jose Vizueth managed to grab onto a passing tree and pull themselves out of the water. Connellan also caught hold of the tree but…