Father drowns saving 3 young children from Franklin Township river

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Friday, August 4, 2023
Father drowns saving 3 children from Franklin Township river
A father drowned as he tried to save his three young children from a river in Franklin Township, New Jersey. Crystal Cranmore has the story.

FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, New Jersey (WABC) -- A father drowned as he tried to save his children from a river in Franklin Township on Wednesday afternoon.

Authorities recovered the body of 42-year-old Rolando Camarillo-Cholula of South River from the Millstone River.

The father of six saved his three kids before he slipped and went under the water himself.

Witnesses say the children, ages 8, 11 and 13, went into the water and quickly became distressed after 2 p.m.

That's when Camarillo-Cholula went into the water, pulled his children to shallow water, but struggled to maintain his balance.

First responders at the scene went into the water but their efforts to save him were unsuccessful. His body was recovered shortly before 5:30 p.m.

The children were treated at the scene and released. While they are physically OK, they are still trying to process the grief.

On Friday, Kelvin Camarillo broke down in tears recalling the final moments he saw his dad alive. They had just eaten at IHOP before tragedy struck.

"He put others first before himself, he would risk his life," Camarillo said.

The victim's nephew, Alexander Lopez-Perez, said being able to save his kids showed just how serious he was about serving and protecting his children.

"He had just been at my parents' house celebrating my dad's birthday," Lopez-Perez said. "I remember him as a loving father, someone who was a teacher at heart."

His nephew said he loved nature and enjoyed spending time outdoors with his family. The river was one of his favorite spots.

He was a hard worker who recently started his own construction business and bought the family a home.

The Franklin Township Police Department reminded residents that causeways, lakes, and all waterways can hide dangers like hidden currents, sudden depths, and cold shock.

When traveling along the canal and towpath, look for postings that provide guidance on prohibited areas and activities.

A GoFundMe has been started by the victim's family to raise funds for funeral arrangements and leftover money will go to help his children.

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