Community mourns death of Los Fresnos High School student who drowned at SPI

The Los Fresnos school district is providing counseling services to staff, students and friends of a 17-year-old high school senior who was the victim of an apparent drowning.

The body of Alberto Christian Buitureira was recovered Thursday afternoon by federal, state, county and local authorities. He had disappeared Wednesday afternoon near Beach Access No. 5 on South Padre Island.

He was pronounced dead by Cameron County Justice of the Peace Pct. 1 Bennie “Bo” Ochoa IV.

Buitureira had been out with five high school friends at the Island, Ochoa said. They decided to go swimming.

“The current was pretty strong; I guess they were on the sandbar and started to feel distress and started panicking,” Ochoa said. “Most of them made it back to the sandbar and the shore, but Buitureira was still struggling and wasn’t able to make it back. He went under and they didn’t see him after that.

“It was a very, tragic, tragic accident,” Ochoa said.

Authorities had been searching for Buitureira since he went missing Wednesday afternoon near Beach Access No. 5.

The Los Fresnos Consolidated Independent School District issued the following statement: “Our hearts are heavy today following the loss of a Los Fresnos High School senior who died in a drowning accident that occurred on Wednesday on South Padre Island. District Administration, staff, and the Los Fresnos CISD Board of Trustees extend their deepest condolences and heartfelt prayers to the family and friends of the student.

“Los Fresnos CISD is currently providing on-campus counseling services for our students and staff at Los Fresnos High School and will continue to do so as needed. We kindly ask that you keep our school community in your thoughts as we process this tragic loss.”

Authorities recover body of missing swimmer off South Padre Island

Buitureira’s mother, Cristina Garcia, started a GoFundMe account to pay for the funeral services for her son.

She writes, “I’m raising money for my only son funeral his name is Alberto Christian Buitureira and he was taken from me so soon and unexpected. This money is for his funeral expenses.”

U.S. Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi command center watchstanders received a notification at 4:12 p.m. Wednesday from Coast Guard Station South Padre Island watchstanders, who stated they received a 9-1-1 relay of a missing swimmer last seen in the water near Beach Access 5, the federal agency said in a media release.

The Coast Guard, South Padre Island Fire Department, Cameron County Beach Patrol, Cameron County Emergency Management Division and Park Rangers assisted in the search and recovery.

Watchstanders issued an urgent marine information broadcast and launched MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and HC-144 Ocean Sentry airplane crews from Coast Guard Air Station Corpus Christi and a Station South Padre Island 33-foot Special Purpose Craft–Law Enforcement boat crew to search for the missing swimmer, Coast Guard authorities said.

Ochoa said he wasn’t sure whether Buitureira knew how to swim, but added that even good swimmers, “if you swallow some water and start to panic, even a good swimmer can be put in that situation … my heart goes out to his family and friends, especially those young teenagers that had to experience that tragedy.”

The National Weather Service in Brownsville/Rio Grande Valley had alerted the public Tuesday and Wednesday about strong rip currents along the coastal waters.

Ochoa said Island officials continue to encourage people travel to SPI to enjoy the beaches, but tourists and other visitors should be extra careful when entering the Gulf waters.

“Some days the current is stronger than others, so it’s always good to do the buddy system and to watch out for one another, and also not to go into deep because you never know what can happen. My heart does go out to the family.”

Coast Guard searching for missing swimmer off South Padre Island