Hundreds attend fundraiser for 3 Oakland men who drowned saving nephew

The Guatemalan community and beyond turned out for a fundraiser in Oakland to support the families of three men who drowned in the Sacramento Delta trying to save one of their nephews over the July 4 weekend. 

The men were affectionately known as the "three amigos."  

They lived in Oakland and sometimes worked together, often times played together, and unfortunately died together on July 3.

Music, food, and drink were flowing at Raimondi Park in West Oakland on Sunday, which had a festive atmosphere for the somber occasion.  

The daughter of one of the three men who drowned helped organize a fundraiser to help pay expenses to send her father’s body, and those of two others, back to Guatemala.

"It’s very important to the family, and their religion, come back in Guatemala," said Wendy Rivas. 

The three men, Edwin Rivas, Danilo Gutierrez and Edwin Perez drowned while on a fishing trip near Brannan Island in the Sacramento Delta. They were among several men who jumped in the water to save an 8-year-old nephew 

Juan Cabrera was one of those who tried to help.

 "The undercurrent it was so strong, I start to struggling too," Cabrerra said. 

Cabrera said he, two other men, and the boy barely made it out.  He had one explanation as to why he survived.

"I don’t know," he said. "God." 

Wendy Rivas said it will cost roughly $15,000 each to return the men home for burials in Guatemala. 

All the food, drink, and donations will go toward that end. One woman, not part of the Guatemalan community, shared why she felt compelled to attend the fundraiser and donate.

"That child, and then their loss.  That’s a great loss.  Three men.  And to get them back home," said Kimberly Hill. 

Oakland City Councilman Noel Gallo knew and praised the three men who lived in his Fruitvale district. 

"They were regular volunteers," Gallo said. "Every Saturday and every Sunday morning from 8 a.m. to noon we cleaned the neighborhood, illegal dumping with the homeless encampments, cleaning the schools even, and they were there." N

Well over 200 people attended the event, and thousands of dollars have already been donated online.  Rivas said she’s comforted by the overwhelming support extended to her father and his two amigos.

 "I have a little more peace because I know the support and I know the people loved my dad and his friends too," said Rivas.

As of Sunday evening, a GOFUNDME campaign with a goal of $45,000 dollars was at nearly $38,000.  

Wendy Rivas said there is an upcoming car wash next week, and she’s confident they’ll raise enough money to send the three amigos home.

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