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Family Of Connecticut Man Who Drowned Trying To Save Family Members Asks Puerto Rico For Danger Signs

SAN JUAN — Family and friends mourned the loss of a Connecticut man who died while saving his two daughters during their vacation in Puerto Rico last week.

His nieces told of the horrific ordeal and the community’s response on Wednesday.

“My uncle actually drowned,” said Huertas the niece of Jose Antonio Gonzalez.  “He hit his head on a rock trying to help my oldest cousin and he drowned.”

Kayla Huertas told how her family lost her uncle 42-year-old Jose Antonio Gonzalez affectionately known as T.J. in the tragic beach accident one week ago.

“It was really hard, even still, to adjust,” she said.  “My uncle is gone.  He saved my cousins.  It’s still hard to even keep saying that. My uncle. My uncle.  This was my family.  It’s really hard.”

Kayla said her uncle, aunt, and cousins went on vacation last week.  Her two teenaged cousins were swimming at a popular beach when a large wave separated them.  Her uncle went in to rescue them.

“When he heard my cousin screaming, turned around and he started helping, of course his youngest daughter,” Huertas said.  “First he grabbed his oldest and pushed her onto a rock so she could hold on until he grabbed his youngest.”

Huertas said he went back for the oldest daughter.

“The next wave came and took him,” she said. “They found his body around 2:30 or 3 p.m. They had to actually get a helicopter for my cousin to get off the rock.”

Her sister Lexis Gonzalez went to Puerto Rico to be with the family and her aunt.

“It was very challenging,” Gonzalez said. “Right when she seen me and my mom all she could do was cry and cry.  He was her best friend so it was not also losing her husband, it was losing her best friend, her soul mate and her rock.”

Gonzalez said the community has been extremely supportive.

“My uncle actually worked for Central Auto Company, a tow truck company, so the man who owns a Central auto paid for him to come back home with his daughters,” Huertas said.

Huertas also created a go fund me page for the family to help pay for funeral expenses.  The page already exceeded its $25,000 goal.

“My aunt and cousins, they feel overwhelmed with joy with just how much love we’ve been receiving as a family,” Gonzalez said.

The family also started a petition urging the Puerto Rican government to post more warnings at beaches.

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