BRITISH COLUMBIA - It was supposed to be a happy family picnic following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in the province this July. But the outing turned into a tragedy when 53-year-old Arnulf Salazar drowned after saving his son from the strong currents of Lake Chehalis.
"In a split second, Zach started drifting away, so that’s when I started calling for help, because it was just too far for me to get him," shared the victim's daughter, Zsalve Salazar.
Arnulf immediately waded through the waters to get his 10-year old son Zach who has autism.
Bystanders who heard the cries helped Arnulf and reached out to grab the child after he pushed his son towards them. But after getting his son to safety, the strong current pulled Arnulf down the lake.
Zsalve said their family is still trying to come to grips with their loss. "It's still like a big shock to us because it happened just so fast and like we never expected such things to happen on that day".
However, she shared that Zach and his twin, who also has autism, somehow understand that their dad is gone.
Zsalve described her father as a kind and hardworking dad who always supported her dreams. She will start university soon to study psychology so that she can help people with special needs like her brothers.
"He always wanted me to do my best and to always do what I love, so he was always my number one supporter," said Zsalve.
Zsalve and her older brother Zirus started a GoFundMe page to help them with their funeral expenses. To date, donations have reached almost $60,000. Zsalve said she's grateful to those who have helped their family.