Dennis D. Gillespie died after saving Casey V. Burriola from drowning, Concan, Texas, June 30, 2004. Burriola, 48, and his friend Gillespie, 33, senior millwright, were kayaking the Frio River with another friend. The river, in flood stage as the result of recent rains, poured over a low-water crossing in a four-foot-high waterfall that dropped to a pool about five feet deep. The three kayaked over the crossing, Gillespie and the other friend continuing downstream without incident. Burriola’s kayak, however, became caught in the backwash at the base of the waterfall. It rolled, spilling him into the water. Unable to overcome the downward pull of the backwash, Burriola signaled for help. Gillespie returned to the crossing in his kayak and at the waterfall freed Burriola. Burriola swam to safety. Gillespie’s kayak then rolled, spilling him into the backwash and trapping him there. Others using a line and an inflated inner tube pulled him to the bank. Attempts to revive Gillespie failed, as he had drowned.
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