SAN ANTONIO – The Bandera Marshal's Office has confirmed the identity of a Marine Corps veteran, two-time purple heart recipient and good samaritan who died while saving the lives of two teens at Bandera City Park on Wednesday.
The veteran was identified as Rodney Buentello. According to Northside ISD spokesman Pascual Gonzalez, Buentello was a former instructional assistant at Jay High School.
Bandera Marshal Will Dietrich said a teenage girl had tried to walk across the dam amid the surge from recent rainfall.
She was washed over the top of the dam and fell into the water below. A teenage boy who was nearby jumped in to help her, but he soon became caught in the undertow.
Buentello jumped in to help the struggling teens. He was able to get the girl to safety, and eventually pushed the boy out of the undertow and downstream, but he became caught in the undertow himself.
The former Marine was underwater for about 30 minutes before his body surfaced. He was found about 30 yards downstream from the dam.
Dietrich said Buentello had been at the park with his wife and children, and did not know either of the teens he saved.
Buentello graduated from Jay High School. He was hired at the school in September 2013 and resigned last month, Gonzalez said.