Girlfriend recounts final words with boyfriend before he drowned in San Jacinto River

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by KHOU.com staff

khou.com

Posted on June 3, 2014 at 10:59 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 4 at 10:56 AM

HOUSTON -- A memorial will be held Saturday for the young man who was swept downstream and died while swimming with his girlfriend in a swollen San Jacinto River.

Jared Brimhall, 18, drowned just days before his high school graduation. His body was found in the river on Sunday.

His girlfriend, Katherine Warman, was the last person to speak with him. She even snapped the last photo of him alive.

“I loved that boy more than anything,” Warman tells KHOU 11 News.

Warman hopes their story can warn people of the dangers of swimming in hazardous conditions.

The pair had decided to go swimming in the river, which was higher and faster than usual due to heavy rains across Southeast Texas.

“In a split second, one wrong decision can change everything. No one really knows how strong water really is.”

The fast-moving river, filled with debris, quickly overwhelmed the couple.

“I kept yelling at him to swim, and he said ‘I can’t move my legs, I can’t breath’ and so that is my biggest question: what happened in those split seconds?”

“I finally got a hold of something, but he just kept moving and kept moving, and I couldn’t hold him. He held my leg and said ‘I love you, it’s okay’ and then he was just gone.”

It’s the last time she saw him -- as he let go and was swept down the river.

Warman believes he was trying to protect her by letting go.

“He took care of his family, took care of his friends.”

Authorities searched the river for three hours and then notified the teen's family of his disappearance, and then a group of family members and friends also began searching.

The incident occurred Wednesday night, but it was several days before the teen's body was located, about a half-mile from where he was last seen.

A spokesman for the Montgomery County Sherriff’s Office said the amount of the debris floating in the river made it difficult to search, and sonar equipment typically used wouldn't work due to the debris.

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