HESPERIA A man and his nephew died after the boy fell into the aqueduct near Main Street on Thursday and his uncle jumped in to save him, according to rescuers at the scene.


Fino Hernandez, 48, and Miguel Ortiz Jr., 9, both of Hesperia, were pronounced dead after they arrived at Desert Valley Hospital, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Melanie Weaver.


According to family members, neither Hernandez nor Ortiz knew how to swim.


A little after noon, a worker with the city of Hesperia's water department called 911 and reported a young boy had flagged him down and told him his brother and uncle were in the aqueduct, officials said.


"The worker grabbed a tethered floatation device from his vehicle and attempted to rescue Hernandez and Ortiz, but found it very difficult as the water in the aqueduct travels at about 10 to 12 miles per hour," Weaver said.


A firefighter with San Bernardino County Hesperia station's Swift Water Rescue Team dove into the icy waters and managed to pull the 9-year-old boy from the water, said CHP Capt. Todd Sturgess. Rescuers then transported Ortiz to a local hospital in critical condition.


San Bernardino County Fire and Sheriff's authorities managed to grab the uncle from the banks of the aqueduct. Rescuers first thought the man was dead, but after pulling him from the cold water, official said he began to show some signs of life. Firefighters performed CPR and transported Hernandez to a hospital as well.


Both victims were pronounced dead shortly after they arrived at the hospital.


Hernandez and the two boys were reportedly taking a small dog for a walk along the aqueduct near Main Street when the older one fell in, Susan Rose, spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, said.


"It's not clear if he was just walking too close to the water's edge and fell in or if he was playfully chasing their small dog when he fell into the water," Weaver stated.


The younger boy, who's 6 years old, stayed on the banks of the aqueduct clutching his small dog, running alongside his brother and uncle for about a mile and calling for help.


After his brother and uncle had been taken from the scene, the young child sat in a CHP vehicle, clad in Cars pajamas and holding his little dog, not truly aware of what took place.


Although there is a paved pedestrian walkway along the aqueduct, Weaver said there are signs posted warning people of the dangers of swimming in the water.


Beatriz E. Valenzuela may be reached at (760) 951-6276 or at BValenzuela@VVDailyPress.com.