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Family remembers man who drowned in Schuylkill River

Published On: Jul 24 2013 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 25 2013 07:00:59 AM CDT

Family remembers man who drowned in Schuylkill River

READING, Pa. -

A grieving family in Reading hopes others learn from their personal tragedy.

Friday, Victor Pantoja, 24, drowned in the Schuylkill River.

Loved ones say Pantoja, who picked mushrooms for a living, had dreams of, one day, returning to Mexico and forging a better life for his family.

"It hurts. Nobody wants this for anybody's family," said Miguel Gonzalez, relative.

69 News was there as firefighters tried to save Pantoja, performing CPR, but Pantoja was unresponsive, fire officials said.

Last week, while the region endured a heat wave, friends say Pantoja started swimming in the Schuylkill River near Blair Avenue and Montgomery Street in northwest Reading, looking for relief from the high temperatures.

His friend, Luis Reyes, who was with Pantoja, says he tried to warn him about the dangers of the river, but he says his warnings went unheeded.

"I keep telling him: 'Yo, don't go in the water. Don't go in the water.' He said: 'I know how to swim," said Reyes, unable to hold back the tears. "He went in the water and he didn't come out."

Thursday, Pantoja's body will be shipped to Mexico .... where even more family members will endure the agony of saying good bye.

"I know they can't take the pain. They're terrified over there."

Pantoja's family says they want to warn the public about the dangers of swimming in a river, and to take precaution to prevent any more drownings.