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Two Saudi students drown while rescuing American children in Massachusetts

Published: Updated:

Last Friday, two Saudi students studying in the United States were drowned in the Chicopee River of Massachusetts while trying to rescue two children who were being swept away in the river.

Awad Alrakah, a relative to the two students, said both boys were studying civil engineering during the past five years and were about to graduate in a couple of weeks. Their family has not seen them during the past three years and have been waiting for their graduation and their eventual return to Saudi Arabia.

He said that the family found out about the incident from one of their brothers who is also studying in the US and who received the tragic news from an American fellow student. The two Saudi students were attempting to rescue two children of an American family but had died from drowning after a strong current swept them into the waters.

Alrakah added that the brother Jasser was with them in the US, but did not accompany them on the trip as he had already made plans to celebrate his graduation with college mates in another state.

The last contact between the two young men and their families came two days before their ill-fated death.

“Up till now, the US authorities have not finished the procedures [to repatriate their bodies]. We want to finalize the procedures from the Saudi embassy and the bodies to arrive in the Najran region of southern Saudi Arabia,” Alrakah said.

Their families are reportedly having a difficult time but they have said they are taking solace that their children died as martyrs and heroes as they drowned while trying to rescue children.

Massachusetts authorities revealed the identity of the two Saudi young men as Theeb Alyami, 27, and Jaser Daham Alrakah, 25, and also said that one of the bodies was found on Friday evening while the other one was found on Monday morning.

The spokesman of the Hampden County Attorney’s Office, Anthony Colony, said that the police received a rescue call on Friday for a group of swimmers near the Reb Bridge Road. Eye witnesses said that two children were struggling in the waters because of the strong current. A lot of people had attempted to rescue them, the two Saudi student rescuers were swept away in the tide.

Alyami was studying at Hartford University and was in his fourth year in civil engineering, while Alrakah was studying civil engineering at Western University of New England.