By Anna Giles


NEVADA COUNTY (CBS13) — It’s been four days since a Sacramento man was swept away in the South Yuba River. His daughter barely survived the same fall.

Now, the family of Alex Alvarez is still working to find his body.

Alvarez’s family has been doing their own searches because rescue crews are unable to do much or see much with the water so high.

His wife Anekka said she’ll spend Wednesday, her birthday, at the water where he was last seen. She said Alex had a huge heart and worked two jobs to support his family and mother in law with cancer. Above all, Anekka said he was a great father to their kids.

READ MORE: Family Seeks Closure As Crews Search For Father Swept Away In South Yuba River

Steven Ellison was at the river when the father and daughter fell in. He managed to save the 12-year-old.

“Hard to think that little girl lost her dad and she’s going to be forever traumatized and probably blame her self. It’s not her fault,” said Ellison.

Ellison was the first person to take action when Alex Alvarez and his 12-year-old daughter slipped into the South Yuba River. He said it took 20 minutes for rescuers to come. The little girl was in the water the entire time.

“I just started talking to her and telling her that help was on the way. My wife called 911, I said ‘They’re coming’ and she said, ‘Please don’t let me die,’” Ellison said.

ALSO: One-Year-Old Boy In Critical Condition After Falling Into Pool

Ellison said he was prepared to go into the water after her when it seemed no one else would.

“Everyone just grabbed their phones and would rather videotape. How are you going to videotape a little girl slipping down a river? No one reacted,” he said.

Once a rescuer arrived, Ellison was the one to pull him and the little girl back to safety with a rope.

“The little girl…her face is so burnt into my head I feel like she’s familiar and I’ve known her her whole life,” Ellison said.

Ellison wishes he was able to save her father too.

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