Family of two brothers who drowned in Irondequoit Bay speak out
Posted at: 08/29/2012 12:32 PM
| Updated at: 08/29/2012 6:42 PM
By: Christine VanTimmeren | WHEC.com
For the first time, News10NBC is hearing from the nine-year-old boy who called for help as two members of his family drowned in Irondequoit Bay Tuesday.
The nine-year-old, who used a cell phone to call 911, told News10NBC what happened. 27-year-old Chantha Nhong and 28-year-old Keo Nhong drowned Tuesday. They were out tubing with family on Irondequoit Bay. Keo fell off a tube and his brother jumped in to save him. Both men drowned.
Four children were left stranded on the boat and witnessed the tragedy including nine-year-old Paul Castro.
Castro said, “When I was tubing, I fell off and Keo tried to save me and then he was drowning. And then I swam to the boat, he got me up and then the driver tried to save Keo but they both drowned.”
Castro pulled his younger cousin to safety and called 911.
Castro said, “Two guys are drowning, two guys are like drowning and we need help. She said she’s going to bring the Coast Guard over to the water.”
Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputies say the bodies of both men were found Tuesday night about 200 years off the shore in about 30 feet of water. Family members of Chantha and Keo Nhong says these brothers had a fierce loyalty and to them family meant everything.
Genny Torres, victim’s fiancé, said, “We’ve been together since high school, he’s all I know. We’re high school sweethearts.”
When pictures and memories are all you have left of a loved one, you hold them so tight.
Torres said, “The last thing I had was a kiss in the morning when he walked to the car as I was going to work and that’s all I have.”
But Genny Torres does have her family and her fiancé, Chantha’s family. They all gathered at her house Wednesday to remember the two brothers who never left each other’s side, even in death.
Kimmie Nhong, victims' sister, said, “It's just really hard to lose not only one family member but both of them at the same time.”
Torres said, “They were inseparable. Keo and Chantha were inseparable. Chantha is always looking out for him even though Chantha was the smaller brother.”
Chantha and Keo were out on the Irondequoit Bay boating Tuesday with family when the unthinkable happened. While tubing, Keo was thrown off and started to go under. His brother, Chantha, who was driving the boat at the time, jumped in to save him. Neither of them ever came back up.
Torres said, “I'm not surprised that he went out as a hero trying to save his brother. I just love him so much and miss him.”
It’s a heartache you can feel, a heartache that’s not going to go away.
But the family’s focus now has to be on the kids. They worry about Chantha Jr. who was on the boat and saw everything.
Nhong said, “We’re definitely all going to look after the kids, no matter what.”
And as the family holds the children, the memories and each other close, they urge all of us to do the same.
Torres said, “Take advantage. Take advantage of who you have in front of you because you never know when they're going to be taken.”
The family had just purchased the boat recently and was excited about it. They had only taken it out a few times and Tuesday was their first time tubing. Genny said Chantha loved being on the water and was so excited to take her parents out on the boat when they come into town.