Boston, MA – The families of two Saudi Arabian college students who gave their lives to help save drowning children in the Chicopee River in June, 2018, vow that the tragedy will not go unnoticed. The story of the drowning has received global attention, including from President Trump, who hailed the Saudi students’ heroic actions as having “exemplified tremendous courage by putting their own life at risk.” The families are seeking to ensure this type of loss should not happen again in the Wilbraham, Massachusetts area.
The two Saudi students, Theeb Al-Yami, 27, and Jaser Al-Rakah, 25, jumped into the Chicopee River on June 29, 2018 to help save the children who were suddenly swept away by a fast-moving current when the nearby dam released water without warning. In the process of helping to save the children, the two Saudi students were overcome by the current themselves and swept away. The children were ultimately saved, but the two Saudi students trying to help them perished in the turbulent waters.
“We seek to honor Theeb’s and Jaser’s selfless, heroic, life-saving actions,” said NY-based Arab American attorney, Cynthia Hazar Fareed. “These were two foreign students who saw a crisis and helped save the children’s lives, who they didn’t even know, but who were clearly drowning. We strive to ensure that a similar tragedy does not befall others.”
The families of the children who were saved have joined the reform efforts, noting that water released from the dam roared through the recreational area just below the dam without warning and endangering the lives of all present there at the time.
“The young men drowned while courageously attempting to save children in distress,” said US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert. “Their heroism represents the very best of the international students who enrich communities across the United States.”
Says Ms. Fareed, “While we celebrate the selfless acts of Theeb and Jaser, our next step will be to seek fundamental changes to the hydroelectric dam operator to prevent such deaths in the future.”
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