11-year-old boy drowns trying to save brother in powerful current at SC beach

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte family’s trip to the beach ended in an act of heroism and tragedy.

An 11-year-old boy drowned trying to save his brother caught in a powerful current at a beach that some are now trying to shut down.

“We never imagined that this could happen. That we were going to lose our child like this,” Patricia Alcantara said. “The only thing we can do right now is to thank God for the time we spent with him ... remember him as a happy young boy.”

Alcantara said Saturday was a typical summer day. She took her two boys to Clifton Beach on the Pacolet River in Spartanburg.

Eleven-year-old Diego Rivera and his 14-year-old brother were a short distance from their family when Diego saw his brother start to struggle in the water.

Their mother said Diego grabbed his brother’s shoulders and pushed him out of the current, but it only took a second for the water to drag him under. She said he could not even call for help.

Luis Arellano, Diego’s godfather, lives in Charlotte. He said the current at Clifton Beach is powerful and he warned people to stay along the shore.

Channel 9 also found a petition pushing Spartanburg County Council to either close Clifton Beach or make safety changes.

The last reported drowning at Clifton Beach was in August 2020. The petition points to strong currents, rocks in the water and a lack of lifeguards.

(Watch Below: Man drowns while trying to rescue daughters in lake)