SACRAMENTO, Calif. — 15-year-old Amari Quarles is being remembered by his family as a hero. He died on the Sacramento River over the weekend trying to save his brother.
Amari just completed his freshman year at Natomas High School and got straight A’s this semester. His family is proud of what he was able to accomplish in school, showing ABC10 his honor roll award, but they're also proud of him for trying to save his brother.
“He died a hero. He died to save somebody else’s life, and he lost his in turn," said James Sashe, Amari's Father.
The family said they were enjoying a day at Sand Cove Park when Amari's brother Elijah went in the water to get a football that was thrown too far.
They said when Amari saw Elijah struggling in the river, he jumped in to help without hesitation. As the boys began to drift, Amari's step-mother Yolanda Sashe went in to help as well.
"The water is just pulling you and tugging you and dragging you and holding you," said Yolanda Sashe. "And the pressure on my chest as I'm swimming to Elijah, I'm like, I know they're in trouble."
Yolanda Sashe said a boater was able to get her and Elijah to safety, but Amari was swept away.
"I clenched my hand to hold him and this water just rushed and snatched him, just took him away. He was gone," she said.
"He had told me, 'One of us is going to have to go down,' and he made sure it wasn't me," said Elijah, Amari's younger brother. "It really hurts not seeing him here right now, and it just hurts just speaking about him knowing that I can't turn and hug him. I can't turn and dap him up, do our signature handshake."
Amari's family recently moved to the area from New York.
His family said he loved football and music. They want him to be remembered for his strength and heart.
"He lit up the room when he knew you were upset. He would do anything to make you smile," said Marjorie Quarles, Amari's mother. "He was my miracle boy."
"He was an amazing person — his laugh to his jokes," said Arianna Seibert, Amari's cousin. "We had so much plans that I'm going to complete for him, that everybody will complete for him. I just love you cuz. Rest in peace. Forever 15. Long live Amari."