Without hesitation, this young teen gave up his life to make sure that two others lived and his loved ones couldn't be more proud, despite their grief.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on October 4, 2019. It has since been updated.
When it comes to helping others in need, there are some people for whom it is not a second thought. They are ready to spring into action to help them out, regardless of the cost to their own safety. And this brave teen was one of them.
On September 30, Elvia Venegas, 25, and her 9-year-old son were swimming along a sandbar at Virginia Key Beach. Elvia had been teaching her son how to swim when suddenly, they were hit with a strong current that dragged them far away from the shore, WSVN News 7 reported. Struggling against the force of the currents, neither of them expected 17-year-old Cristian Burgos to come to their rescue.
According to People, Cristian first rescued the 9-year-old boy before going back for Elvia and kept them from drowning. However, just as things seemed okay and the duo were going back to the shore, the tide took a turn for the worse. The heroic teen was pulled under by the current and had to be rescued himself. When brought back to the shore by bystanders, he had to be rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center due to his critical condition.
However, the extent of his injuries caused him to stay in a state of coma till October 2 when he succumbed to them and passed away that afternoon. Following his tragic death, his family issued a statement, obtained by CBS Miami. It read, “Our little hero has passed away less than 10 minutes ago. We want to thank you all who have been praying for his supernatural recovery. Thank you all who have been donating to help his mother, from the bottom of our hearts. We ask you to keep us the family, especially his mother in your prayers. God bless you all ❤️.”
In a separate statement to the outlet, the devastated mother said, “He’s the best son. He’s the most beautiful person I have had. He is a hero. I am happy and I am sad because I wish this had not happened to him.”
And the woman he saved shared the same sentiments. “If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be alive right now,” Elvia told CBS Miami. “I am just eternally grateful at this moment. That’s all I can say right now.”
His death affected a lot more people though, including his girlfriend, Mayte Padilla. “He’s an amazing person,” she said as she fought back tears. “What he did, I’m so proud of him.”
Cristian’s cousin, Nelly Alvarado, too spoke of her cousin’s heroism before his unfortunate demise. "He’s always caring about other people,” said Nelly, according to WSVN, “so I know that he didn’t think twice to go and help the woman and her child."
"I am honestly very proud of him. It was a selfless act. He didn’t think twice to go and help people. I know it was just instincts just like he has done for everyone his whole life helping other people. He would be happy to know that he saved two people and he will be happy again," she told CBS Miami.
"He was able to save the lives of two people while putting his own life at stake," said William Aristide, principal of Booker T. Washington High School, where the teen was a popular, well-liked and soccer-playing senior. "No other better way to describe him other than the word ‘Hero,'" he said, according to Fox 13.
We talked to Booker T. Washington Principal Mr. Aristide, who describes #Cristian #Burgos as a good kid and solid student. As a bilingual student, he was always willing to help ESOL students. The member of the soccer team was ”well liked by teachers and classmates.” @WPLGLocal10 pic.twitter.com/PN8ARzkPtw— Hatzel Vela (@HatzelVelaWPLG) October 1, 2019
And a hero he truly is, even if he is no longer with us. Even his classmates knew that, as they went out onto their field to have a moment of silence for their fallen friend. Once on the field though, they honored him by spelling out "hero" with their class formations.
HONORING A HERO: The classmates of 17-year-old Cristian Burgos have formed the word "HERO" on the Booker T. Washington High field. Burgos died yesterday after saving a mother and her son from drowning off Virginia Key. 💔 pic.twitter.com/CXVAmw0RYq— Joel Franco (@OfficialJoelF) October 3, 2019
Rest in peace, Cristian.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for those who want to help his family bear the funeral and medical expenses.