MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A 17-year-old remains in critical condition after risking his life to save a mother and her son.
Miami-Dade Schools Supt. Alberto Carvalho is calling his actions “heroic and inspirational.” Carvalho said “He is fighting for his own life after saving two other lives. This was a selfless act of heroism and he should be recognized in our community and we should join in prayers for this remarkable young man. I had a chance to pray at the hospital with both the mother of the boy who is fighting for his life as well as the mother and the 9-year-old boy who were saved.”
His family has identified him as Cristian Burgos.
His mother, Maria Del Carmen Avenado, tells CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “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.”
Family members said Burgos remained in a coma but was able to breathe on his own without the help of any medical equipment.
His cousin Nelly Alvarado said, “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.”
Another cousin, Max Burgos, said, “I am proud but I am sad that he ended up this way but I hope he recovers fast. He is making progress.”
Another cousin, Katherine Zamora, said, “I feel really proud of him and while some might be critical of him risking his own life like this this, I know I would have done the same thing. I always knew he would do stuff like that. He always looked out for other people.”
“He was heroic,” says Burgos’ friend Jasmine Rodriguez. “I’m really proud of him. I’m sad he got hurt, but I’m happy he did what he did because I know the type of person he is.”
Rodriguez said, “I feel really inspired by him and he has inspired other people as well.”
Students showed on Facebook a large poster that they had signed in support of Burgos and CBS4 was at the Holtz Children’s Hospital as they went inside with it.
Eleventh grader Emmanuel Acevedo said, “I admire him very much. He showed us how inspiring this was with his risking his own life and he was rushed to the hospital. He is a warrior. When he wakes up he will know that he saved a woman, a mother and her son.”
Monday afternoon, Elvia Venegas says she and her 9-year-old son were swimming in Virginia Key when they started to be pulled under by a strong top current.
Burgos rushed into the water to help.
“If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be alive right now,” says Venegas. She spoke to CBS4 in Spanish but her responses have been translated to English.
“I am just eternally grateful at this moment. That’s all I can say right now.”
After she and her son made it out safely, Burgos got caught in the rough surf and had to be rescued.
Meredith Diaz witnessed when first responders pulled him out and described it as a “traumatic experience.”
“They came up to the shore and did CPR,” she says. “My cousin and I called 911 and the ambulance came here to save him.”
He was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Burgos family has set up a GoFundMe account to help with his medical bills.