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Man drowns after rescuing 2 children swimming in Pennsylvania lake

Marvin Alexan Fernandez Chicas, 37, helped two children escape the deep waters before he drowned in Lake Nockamixon.
/ Source: TODAY

A man drowned in a Pennsylvania lake on June 29 after rescuing two children who “appeared to be in distress,” authorities said. 

On June 30, the Bucks County Coroner’s Office said in a press release that Marvin Alexan Fernandez Chicas, 37, helped two kids who were swimming in Lake Nockamixon, but later “disappeared in the water.” 

“Bucks County Coroner’s Office has confirmed his cause of death as drowning following this morning’s autopsy with the manner of death determined to be accidental,” the office said. 

The coroner’s office expressed their condolences and said Fernandez Chicas’ family has been contacted about his death.

Fernandez Chicas was able to successfully save the two children, WFMZ-TV, a local news station in Allentown, Pennsylvania, reported on June 30. 

Haycock Township Fire Chief Harry Grim told the outlet that authorities sent a team to try to rescue Fernandez Chicas after receiving a 911 call from two children. 

“We had about 10 divers,” he said. “Multiple boats from Point Pleasant, Bucks County, Haycock Fire Company, the Palisades Regional and stuff. The guys did a great job. It took about two hours until we found the body.” 

Authorities found Fernandez Chicas’ body about 25 feet from shore, Grim told WFMZ-TV. 

He said the children explained to authorities how the man ended up in the lake, where swimming is not permitted. 

“They apparently got in some trouble in the water. He went in to help them. Unfortunately he can’t swim. The kids got out, he did not,” Grim said. 

The children did not suffer any injuries, he shared. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ website encourages those who visit Nockamixon State Park to enjoy multiple activities, such as boating on the lake and swimming in the pool. 

However, the website included a bolded message to visitors in all caps: “Swimming is not permitted anywhere in the lake.” 

Grim said that sometimes visitors do not abide by the rules, which leads to a “sad reality” due the dangerous environment. 

He explained that the 1,450-acre lake does not have “a smooth, gradual slope under the water.”

“They step off into a deep area, they take a gulp of water, and they die unfortunately,” he continued. “It shouldn’t happen, but it does.” 

He then issued a message to future visitors: “Don’t swim in Lake Nockamixon.”

Grim added, “It’s zero visibility this time of year. Divers at 10 feet cannot see their own hands in front of their face. So the chances of us finding them and being able to retrieve them and have them recover are pretty much slim to none.”