Coralville man drowned in the Iowa River after helping rescue 8-year-old child in Johnson County

A Coralville man drowned in the Iowa River after jumping in to save an 8-year-old child on Friday evening.
Published: Aug. 6, 2022 at 12:42 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - At 6:07 p.m. on Friday the Joint Emergency Communication Center got a report of a possible drowning in the Iowa River at 6501 River Junction Road Southeast, which is located in rural Johnson County. At the scene, law enforcement learned that an adult male was missing after he rescued an 8-year-old child. Witnesses performed CPR on the child who was later taken to University of Iowa Hospitals. At 7:10 p.m. the adult male’s body was found dead following the recovery operation.

Bystanders say that the 8-year-old child went into the river and struggled. The adult male swam into the river and attempted to save the child. A kayaker was able to help, saving the child from the river. But the man sank below the water. The kayaker and another person searched for the man, but couldn’t find him.

The drowned man has been identified as 42-year-old Wegayewu Faris from Coralville, Iowa. Faris and the rescued child are not related and were visiting the park with separate families.

Wegayewu Faris, 42, of Coralville.
Wegayewu Faris, 42, of Coralville.(Courtesy: Iowa City Community School District)

The Iowa City Community School District posted a statement on their facebook page:

We are heartbroken to learn of City High Custodian Wegayewu Faris’s tragic death on Friday, August 5, 2022.  Mr. Faris passed away after heroically helping to save the life of an 8-year-old child who had gone into the Iowa River and was struggling. 

Mr. Faris has been a part of the City High and Iowa City Community School District family for the past 17 years.In speaking with City High Principal John Bacon, Mr. Faris was described as kind, caring, and a true friend to all.  He was a wonderful human being who took great pride in his work at City High School.

Our deepest sympathies go out to Mr. Faris’s family and friends.  School counselors will be available in the days and weeks ahead at City High School to offer a supportive environment for students and staff to work through their emotions following this tragedy.

Mr. Faris died a hero and will forever be remembered for his brave and selfless actions.  We will miss him deeply.

The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident. The Johnson County Medical Examiner, Johnson County Conservation, Johnson County Emergency Management, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa State Patrol, Hills Fire Department, Lone Tree Fire Department helped the Sheriff’s Office at the scene.

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