Brenda DeDios, the 34-year-old mother who died after jumping into a raging Utah river in an attempt to save her drowning daughter, had a “heart of gold,” her family said.
And they weren’t surprised by her final heroic act.
“She loved her kids immensely,” Tawny DeDios, Brenda DeDios’ sister-in-law, told KUTV. “[Her daughter] London was a beautiful little girl. She was timid but she had a heart of gold and we will miss her very much.
DeDios and 4-year-old London were sitting on rocks near the Provo River in Utah under a small pedestrian bridge on Monday when the child fell in. The mother, and an onlooker, 30-year-old Sean Thayne, jumped in the rushing water to save her, along with four other Good Samaritans.
However, both DeDios and Thayne — who did not know either the mother or daughter when he jumped into action — drowned in the attempted rescue near Bridal Veil Falls. DeDios and Thayne were pulled from the raging water (also extremely cold due to snowmelt coming off the mountains) and taken to Utah Valley Hospital in critical condition.
“I think that it takes a really brave person to do what he did,” Tawny says of Thayne. “Not having any relationship to the family, risking his own life. I want to thank Sean from the bottom of my heart for everything that he did. And I thank his family and my prayers go out to them.”
Officials found the toddler’s body on Tuesday afternoon located below the water level and stuck under logs about a mile downstream from where she fell into the river, PEOPLE confirms.
DeDios and Thayne both died shortly after being rushed to a nearby hospital.
“He would jump in for somebody else,” Colton Swapp of Provo, who had known Thayne for about ten years, told KUTV. “He just had such a big heart.”
“She was an amazing woman. Very passionate and loving and devoted to her family and kids,” DeDios’ best friend Karla Belloso told the outlet. “Always laughing, that’s all I can think about is her laughter.
DeDios was a mother of five. A GoFundMe page has been created to help the family with funeral costs.