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‘I just wish I would’ve held on longer’: 14-year-old swept away in rough waters, family says

Published: May. 23, 2022 at 3:43 PM EDT
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ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (WALA/Gray News) - The unimaginable happened to a Louisiana family vacationing in Alabama when their 14-year-old son was swept away in rough waters. He has not yet been found.

This was the family’s first time in Orange Beach, and they planned on staying just one day to celebrate their son Tyreke Walker’s 14th birthday.

“I just wish that he comes back,” his mother, Canhtam Nguyen, said.

Dangerous rough waters roped the boy in Saturday evening, just after beach flags were upgraded from red to double red, according to Orange Beach Fire Rescue.

Clint Walker, the boy’s father, was almost swept away with him and was later rushed to the emergency room due to excessive water inhalation.

He shared with WALA some of those last moments with his son.

“He’s like, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t come back,’” Walker said. “I grabbed him, and I had him, but the water was just pulling us and pulling us. Honestly, I didn’t think I was going to make it. I lost his grip. I kept getting thrown to the bottom of the water and, somehow, I made it to shore, and he didn’t. I just wish I would’ve held on longer.”

Orange Beach Fire Rescue transitioned the search from sea to shore, combing the beaches for any sign of Tyreke.

“Right now, our efforts are wanting to bring closure to the family as much as possible, but it’s really a waiting game at this point trying to recover the child,” Battalion Chief Bruce Nelson said.

The family also pleaded for others to be on the lookout.

“If there’s any signs at all,” Nguyen said. “I know that there’s a chance he might not even be on Orange Beach anymore. Just please, I just want to see him. I just want him home with the family. I don’t want that to be the last moment I saw him.”

Along with their son, the family was searching for a good Samaritan who tried to help.

“I don’t know the guy’s name, but in the heat of the moment when everything was happening, there was another dude that went out to go save him,” Walker said. “I just want to tell him personally thank you for trying to help save my son.”

The family has expressed their deepest thank you to Orange Beach Fire Rescue, police, lifeguards, and anyone who has helped to try to find their son.

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