brenda duran
KCRA 3/YouTube

A mother’s love is limitless. This sentiment was especially true when Brenda Duran jumped into the San Joaquin River in central California to rescue her drowning daughter. Duran watched her children playing in the water of a popular beach, but when her 11-year-old daughter couldn’t keep her head above water, Duran rushed into the river, according to the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office.

As she sought to save her daughter, Duran “struggled to stay afloat,” the sheriff’s office said, and the river’s current swallowed the mom. Her son, 14, saw his mom in trouble and jumped back into the river to try to grab her, but he could not get to her in time, according to the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office. First responders, including rescue dive teams, spent hours in the water, but “visibility and safety” concerns forced the search to be paused around 11 p.m., police said.

Duran’s body was recovered around 5:30 p.m. on May 11 outside Newman, California. She was just 30 years old. Yadira Herrera wrote on a GoFundMe post on behalf of Duran’s family, “Brenda’s husband describes her as a ‘very thriving person, always smiling, never giving up and very compassionate.’” The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office said an autopsy will be conducted to establish an official cause of death. “We extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Brenda Duran during this time,” the sheriff’s office said.

The 366-mile San Joaquin River starts in Yosemite and Kings Canyon National Parks and runs through the San Joaquin Valley south of Sacramento. The river is known for its rampant wildlife, economy-fueled tourism that includes paddling, swimming and fishing, and hydroelectric power.

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