Teen who drowned saving girlfriend ‘will never be forgotten’
Deanne Coffin, KPVI
LAVA HOT SPRINGS — A Marsh Valley student died over the weekend after trying to save his girlfriend from drowning.
It’s a bittersweet ending to a tragedy that happened in Lava Hot Springs at a popular swimming hole.
Marsh Valley student Marcos Gil and his girlfriend, Alexa, decided to go for a swim in the river Saturday morning, but the day soon took a turn for the worst.
Alexa jumped into a calm area of the river but quickly got sucked into a deeper area and was struggling to get out. That’s when Marcos jumped in to help and pushed her up to the surface where she was able to get out and get back to shore.
Marcos wasn’t as fortunate. He got caught in the undercurrent and couldn’t get out. The Bannock County Sheriff’s Office got the 911 call just before noon.
Search and Rescue and Bingham County divers went to Lava to help and Marcos’ body wasn’t recovered until three hours later due to the high, swift waters.
Alexa’s mom says she and her family are forever grateful to Marcos for his bravery.
“They raised a hero and he will never be forgotten by any of us. He saved my daughter,” says Andrea Birdsall, Alexa’s Mother.
Marcos’ Scout Master came to the spot where it happened to reflect on his life. He says Marcos was a great person and a good friend to everyone.
“He always made things more and more exciting and if somebody needed saving, (it) doesn’t surprise me he would have been the first one to jump in,” says Jason Beck, Marcos’ Scout Master. “Girlfriend or somebody he didn’t even know – he would have been the first one. That’s just the kind of person he was and we’re going to miss him.”
Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen says the area where the kids got into the water is a popular swimming hole in Lava, but this time of year with the runoff season, the water is cold, it’s deep and the undercurrents are extremely powerful.
“This is the time where we have runoffs and it will last for several weeks. The river is very, very high,” Nielsen says. “We have flood warnings all this weekend and this is not a safe time to go swimming in any of our waterways, plus the water is freezing cold. This is the melt-off time and hypothermia sets in very, very rapidly and so this is just not a good time for anybody to be going swimming, especially in the rivers where there is such a strong current.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Marcos’ family with funeral expenses.