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'It was haunting': A father and son detail trying to save boy who drowned in West Bend

"I just wish we could have found him sooner," Michael Owen said
Posted at 12:40 PM, Jun 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-07 23:47:41-04

WEST BEND — West Bend Police are investigating the drowning death of a young boy at Regner Park Swimming Pond on Saturday.

Officials say the 8-year-old, identified by family members as Isac Rivera, was at a birthday party when it happened.

Around 5 p.m. the family member let a lifeguard know they could not find Isac. Lifeguards immediately announced the lost child over the public address system, cleared the pond and search the area.

West Bend resident Michael Owen recalls enjoying the Regner Park swimming pond Saturday before the announcement was made.

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Immediately after the pond was cleared, he noticed lifeguards looking around the park and not in the water.

"I was with my wife walking around this way and I said, 'if he's in the water, we've got seconds,'" Owen said. "We need to get in the water."

Isac was found unresponsive in the water and brought onshore by a group of bystanders, who immediately helped lifeguards give CPR until first responders showed up.

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Michael's son, Brandon Owen, who was a lifeguard for more than six years, began to help.

"I performed rescue breaths on him to attempt to get any water or any fluids out of his lungs," Brandon said.

Brandon says some fluids came out, but unfortunately Isac died after being transported to Froedtert West Bend Hospital.

Rivera's uncle Jose Anibal Rivera shared with us his nephew was a caring and sweet boy.

"Isac was a very happy child and loved by all, the smallest detail made him happy. My brother was a hopeless young man, we thought that he could not have children because of his condition and that is why Isac was very important to us, he was a kind and an affectionate child."
Jose Anibal Rivera

The tragic event that ended Isac Rivera's life Saturday is the second drowning of a young child to happen at this pond in five years.

Some say more needs to be done to keep everyone safe while they enjoy swimming.

"We need really good training and emergency procedures in place to handle something like this," Michael said. "It really breaks your heart to see something like that, because it's a little boy. His face is going to be with me for a long time."

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City officials say the pond will be closed to the public until Wednesday.

The investigation is ongoing.

In a GoFundMe fundraiser launched for Isac, organizer Claire Szyka writes that he was "a sweet, caring, intelligent, full of energy and just such a loving and loved little boy. He would walk in the room and just light it up with his outgoing personality. Everyone that encountered him would leave his presence with a smile on their face."

"Unfortunately, his life was cut short by a drowning accident. As you know, no one wants to out live their children. This unexpected and tragic event has put his mother in a financial situation that would need to be met," writes Szyka.

The fundraiser has raised more than $1,100 of their $10,000 goal as of Monday afternoon. Click here to see the fundraiser.

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