Rolando Rene Caballero

Halil Cakmaktas, 70, was fishing from a narrow, concrete pier near a channel connecting Keith Lake to the Port Arthur Ship Canal in Port Arthur, Texas, on July 21, 2021, when he fell into the fast-moving water. Crane operator Rolando Rene Caballero, 63, from Port Arthur, was baiting crabs on the shore near the pier with his wife when she heard Cakmaktas call out for help. Caballero instructed his wife to retrieve a bundle of rope from their car. She retrieved the rope and Caballero moved onto the pier where he attempted to throw one end of it to Cakmaktas. After several unsuccessful attempts, Caballero returned to his wife on shore and tied the rope around his waist. He waded about 10 feet into the water before swimming about 40 feet toward Cakmaktas. Caballero was within an arm’s length of Cakmaktas when Cakmaktas submerged and could not be located. Caballero shouted to his wife to pull him back to shore. She pulled the rope, but soon realized it had come untethered from Caballero. Caballero’s wife could still see him and called out instructions to him to lay on his back and attempt to float. The strength of the current pulled Caballero underwater. Firefighters located Caballero’s body about 30 minutes after he submerged. He had drowned. Cakmaktas’ body was recovered by police about an hour after he submerged. He, too, had drowned.

View of pier from nearby overpass