A Valley Springs man died Wednesday morning at a Sacramento County hospital after nearly drowning in New Hogan Reservoir the night before.
Isaias Zurita, 21, was on a swimming trip with his 12-year-old cousin at the lake’s Wrinkle Cove area.
Zurita’s brother, Neftali Zurita, said the boy made it to shore when he noticed Zurita struggling in the water and swam back out to save him. Zurita went under several times as his young cousin struggled to get him out of the water, Zurita’s brother said.
“He was scared, but super brave to get him out,” Neftali Zurita said of his cousin’s actions. “He pulled him out and gave him one more opportunity to make it.”
The Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office said Zurita was already out of the water and bystanders were performing CPR when deputies and other emergency responders arrived about 7:15 p.m.
Zurita was taken from the scene by ambulance and then flown to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Neftali Zurita said his brother’s lungs and brain were severely damaged from the lack of oxygen during the incident and he died about 6 a.m. after his heart stopped beating.
Isaias Zurita lived in Valley Springs with his mother, Leonides, his father, Juan, and his brother, Neftali, 20. He and his brother were born in Modesto and moved to Valley Springs with their parents in 2000.
Zurita attended Calaveras High School for two years and graduated from Gold Strike High School. He enjoyed playing football and soccer but wasn’t on any high school teams, Neftali Zurita said.
“He was always a happy guy. He loved to joke around — that was one of his main qualities,” Zurita said.
The family members are all Jehovah’s Witnesses and Isaias regularly attended the Sutter Creek Spanish congregation.
Neftali Zurita said his brother would work night shifts at Walmart, sleep only a couple of hours and then attend church at 1 p.m. every Sunday.
The family has been receiving support from fellow Jehovah’s Witnesses in Modesto, Lodi, Oakdale, Jackson, Ione and Madera, Zurita said.
Funeral services will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday at Galt Funeral Home in Galt. Zurita will be buried June 26 at the Valley Home Memorial Park Cemetery in Oakdale.