California mom dies saving drowning daughter just before Mother’s Day: sheriff

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner


STANISLAUS COUNTY, Calif. – A mother’s love knows no boundaries.

That was especially true on May 9 when Brenda Duran jumped into the San Joaquin River in central California to rescue her drowning daughter.

The mom watched her children playing in the water of a popular beach, but when her 11-year-old daughter could not keep her head above water, Duran rushed into the river, according to the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office.

As she sought to save her daughter, Duran “struggled to stay afloat,” the sheriff’s office said, and the river’s current swallowed the mom. 

Her son, 14, saw his mom in trouble and jumped back into the river to try to grab her, but he could not get to her in time, according to the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office.

That was around 6:30 p.m. on May 9. First responders, including rescue dive teams, spent hours in the water, but “visibility and safety” concerns forced the search to be paused around 11 p.m., police said.

Duran’s body was recovered around 5:30 p.m. on May 11 outside Newman, California. She was just 30 years old. 

“Brenda’s husband describes her as a ‘very thriving person, always smiling, never giving up and very compassionate,’” Yadira Herrera wrote on a GoFundMe post on behalf of Duran’s family. 

“Brenda, a young mother full of love and laughter, leaves behind her three children, her husband and her extended family that will forever hold her in her heart.”

The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office said an autopsy will be conducted later this week to establish an official cause of death.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Brenda Duran during this time,” the sheriff’s office said. 

The 366-mile San Joaquin River starts in Yosemite and Kings Canyon National Parks and runs through the San Joaquin Valley south of Sacramento. 

The river is known for its teeming wildlife, economy-fueled tourism that includes paddling, swimming and fishing, and hydroelectric power.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.