Off-duty cop, 31, drowns while trying to save his son and three nephews from being a swept away by strong current at a Brazilian beach
- Police officer Diogo Gomes died Tuesday in São Paulo, Brazil, after he tried to save his son, Antonio Gomes, and three nephews from drowning at a beach
- Débora Pinho said she and her husband were in the water when a wave separated her from Gomes and their nine-year-old son
- Pinho said Gomes and their son were going under water when a beachgoer went after them and managed to save the child before her husband was swept away
A family’s beach outing ended in tragedy when a police officer drowned as he tried to save the life of his nine-year-old son at a beach in Brazil.
Débora Pinho told Brazilian news outlet G1 that the family, including her husband Military Police officer Diogo Gomes, 31, their son Antonio Gomes and their three nephews, aged 12 and 13, had visited a beach in the São Paulo city of Itanhaém on Tuesday.
The family were in the ocean when she said that strong waves hit them, washing their son away from the shore, at 4.20pm local time.
Brazilian police officer Diogo Gomes (left) took his family to the beach and drowned while trying to save his son, Antonio Gomes (right), on Tuesday. His wife Débora Pinho (center) told news outlet G1 that a wave separated her from her son and husband and she told her three nephews to get back to the shore. A young man swam out and rescued her son before Gomes was dragged away by a strong current and found dead 40 minutes later
Diogo Gomes (left) was hailed by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who called the cop a hero for risking his life to save his son, Antonio Gomes (right) from drowning at a beach in São Paulo on Tuesday
Diogo Gomes (left) with his wife Débora Pinho (lower center) and son Antonio Gomes (top center)
Pinho immediately ordered her three nephews to return to the shallow part of the beach and saw her husband had swum out to try and rescue their son and was holding him up above the waves.
‘I realized that our son was sinking and Diogo was holding him, trying to save him,’ Pinho said. ‘I started screaming, asking for help.’
Pinho said a young man on the beach heard her cries for help and swam out to rescue the Antonio Gomes as Diogo Gomes’ strength began to fail him.
Diogo Gomes (left) was playing with his wife, Dêbora Pinho (right), when a wave at a São Paulo, Brazil, beach separated them. Gomes tried hold on to their nine-year-old son before a young man swam out and grabbed the child and took him back to shore. Gomes tried to stay afloat but was tragically swept away by the strong current before lifeguards found him dead
Diogo Gomes spent 11 years as a member of the São Paulo Military Police force
‘I saw he was further down with his head down. He just raised his hand as if he were asking for help,’ Pinho said, adding that she kept screaming for help.
A group of beach visitors also jumped in and tried to swim to get close to Diogo Gomes, but were forced to retreat because of the current’s strength.
Bystanders had to physically restrain Pinho from entering the water to try and save her husband as she saw him disappear beneath the waves.
Gomes’ body was recovered by lifeguards at 5:20pm.
Pinho lamented she could not do enough to save her husband, who spent 11 years in the São Paulo police force.
‘He gave his life for our son,’ Pinho said. ‘I wish I could have saved him, too. I tried, but it didn’t work. He was a hero.’
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who is spending the New Year’s holiday in the São Paulo coast, attended Gomes’ funeral service Wednesday and commended him for his efforts in saving his son.
‘Really a hero who gave his life for the lives of children who were bathing in that place,’ he said. ‘Our hearts go out to the whole family. It will be marked in history.’