Guadalupe River search

The New Braunfels Fire Department's dive team arrives to assist in the search of a missing swimmer on Monday, June 14, 2021 in the Guadalupe River at the FM 1117 bridge. The man was reported missing on Sunday, June 13, 2021 after he and another woman saved two children from drowning.

A man and a woman lost their lives saving the man’s two children from drowning on a hot day on the Guadalupe River.

Cassandra Kendrick, 22, did not know 30-year-old Victor Villanueva or his two children that the current began pulling under the river’s waters near the FM 1117 bridge. She stepped up for the children’s sake and helped rescue the youngsters before tragedy struck.

The pair were successful in saving the children, however, they were reported missing just before 5 p.m. June 13 when they both disappeared below the water’s surface following the rescue, Guadalupe County Sheriff’s Lt. Javier Luna said.

Search operations commenced after the duo went missing and crews eventually found each of their bodies.

Villanueva, who originally is from San Antonio, reportedly was with his three children enjoying a day on the river. Kendrick, a Seguin resident, was with a larger, separate group of about 20 people.

Both groups hung out on an island in the middle of the river.

The current caught two children prompting Villanueva to go after them, Luna said. Kendrick followed with intentions of helping the man.

Villanueva reached one of the children and passed the child off to Kendrick, who then gave the child to another person. Villanueva reached the second child and again handed off the child to Kendrick, who helped secure the child’s safety.

At that time, Villanueva appeared to begin struggling and Kendrick went out to help him, Luna said. Both sank, prompting family members to call for help, which led to divers and others searching for Villanueva and Kendrick.

They recovered Kendrick’s body nearly four hours about a mile down the river from where she helped rescue the children. Her body had floated about a mile away from where she submerged.

Expanded search efforts went into the night, were suspended and continued the next day to find Villanueva.

Searchers restarted their efforts about 7 a.m. the next morning and discovered his body about 2:56 p.m. and about a mile downriver.

The area of the river where the pair went missing is notorious for water-related mishaps. There are signs in the area warning against swimming but swimmers routinely ignore the dangers.

Many people have lost their lives in the area, including 18-year-old Adrian Mares, who disappeared May 6, 2020, while swimming near the FM 1117 bridge.

Since the latest drowning incident, “No Parking” signs have been added to the area to deter people from going to that area.

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