CUTLER BAY, FLA. (WSVN) – A South Florida mother and her son were overseas when he got caught in a rip current. She bravely saved him but it cost her — her life.
Cutler Bay Middle School teacher Michelle Vargas passed away while trying to save her 10-year-old son, Micheal, at a beach in El Salvador on Sunday.
“It is a tragic loss to the students, staff and community to Cutler Bay Middle School,” said Principal Ignacio Rodriguez. “Very tragic.”
She had taken her son to visit his paternal grandparents over the long weekend.
While visiting the beach, her son got caught in a rip current. Michelle was able to push her son to safety, but in the process, drowning in that same current.
She was celebrating her 49th birthday that same day.
“For the community, it’s going to deeply impact, especially the at risk students that she constantly helped and guided,” said Rachel Medrano, a coworker and friend.
Medrano said her death is not only a big loss for the family, it’s also a tremendous loss for students, staff and faculty at the middle school.
“She just made it a point to make everyone feel as welcomed as possible when they started at our school,” said Medrano. “Michelle had a gift for reaching the students that other people would have wrote off or said were unteachable or unreachable.”
Rodriguez also expressed his remorse and spoke about the big void this will leave at the South Florida school.
“She is the mother type,” he said. “She really took a lot of pride of being that mother figure to a lot of her students. She was always available to them, to give them advice, academic or life lessons. Always available, very approachable, warm caring person, always willing to help others. She was just an amazing human being. We were lucky to have her.”
Sisters of Vargas have traveled to El Salvador to bring back her son to the U.S.
A friend of Vargas has made a GoFundMe page to help the family with funeral costs and more.
If you would like to donate to Vargas’ GoFundMe page, click here.
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