Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers said a Denison man drowned in the Red River Sunday night after he attempted to save a young family member who became caught in a current.


OHP Trooper Scott King said Antonio Salazar-Galicia, 36, was attending a family cookout near the Denison Dam and jumped into the river sometime after 5 p.m. when he noticed his 10-year-old niece had been swept downriver and was struggling to stay afloat.


“From what I gather, Mr. Salazar-Galicia jumped in and made it to her, but during his attempt to rescue her, he ended up going under and never resurfaced,” King said.


King said a nearby boat made its way to the scene moments later and those aboard were able to pull the unconscious girl from the water.


“As I understand it, the 10-year-old was revived through CPR,” King said. “It was nearly another drowning, but she was taken to Texoma Medical Center for treatment and released. We were very lucky not to have double fatality out there.”


Recovery teams from the Cartwright Fire Department searched the river for roughly an hour, before King said Salazar-Galicia’s body was located a quarter mile east of the dam. Public safety officials from Colbert and the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office also responded.


King said alcohol was not believed to be a factor in the drowning and though the site was designated as a “swim-at-your-own-risk” area, he cautioned swimmers to avoid entering that stretch of river for the risk of encountering unpredictable currents and potentially-hazardous debris.


The OHP trooper encouraged those with plans on the Red River or Lake Texoma to always wear life jackets, especially young children and weak swimmers. King also advised river and lake goers remain on shore and to throw flotation devices or ropes to struggling swimmers, rather than jumping in themselves.


“If you find yourself in a situation where someone is drowning, putting yourself in the water without training as a lifeguard or rescue person, may only make it more dangerous,” King said. “We see it so many times, where someone goes out to try and save another person and they become the victim themself.”


Drew Smith is the crime and emergency reporter for the Herald Democrat. Contact him at asmith@heralddemocrat.com or on Twitter @ DrewSmithHD.