Aarti Senthilvel, an Indian American woman from Pleasanton, Calif., died heroically in Half Moon Bay, Calif., July 1 saving multiple kids who were swept away into a current.
Senthilvel, 47, a mother of two, made every attempt to rescue family and friends – around 11 in total, include her brother-in-law – in the current at Cowell Ranch State Beach, according to a Mercury News report.
Emergency crews responded around 6:30 p.m. at the beach to a report of a woman, Senthilvel, who was swept into the ocean. Personnel from Coastside Fire, AMR, San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office and California State Parks performed a water rescue and initiated medical care, but were unable to revive her, according to the sheriff's office.
Senthilvel helped save at least one teenager, said her brother-in-law, who asked not to be named in the report.
“That’s who she was,” he said in the report. “She probably didn’t realize that she was in more danger.”
The group, upon getting swept into the water, formed a human chain and all but Senthilvel were rescued, the brother-in-law said, according to the publication.
According to San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Rosemerry Blankswade, Senthilvel helped rescue as many as three children and teens.
“While they were attending to the children they didn’t realize she was taken by the undertow,” Blankswade said in the report.
California State Parks Public Safety Superintendent Bill Wolcott said the waves were small on July 1 at the beach. However, ocean currents always pose a risk, he told the publication.
The brother-in-law said Senthilvel volunteered at her children’s high schools. She was also active in the community, providing her services as a classically trained dancer, the Mercury News said.
“She was a lively person,” the brother-in-law added. “Always open to helping others.”
Senthilvel’s death follows three similar incidents last month in which people drowned or nearly died while rescuing children in the state, according to the report.