- Al-Yami was an engineering student in his fourth year at Hartford University, while Al-Rakah enrolled in the University of New England last fall to study civil engineering
- Several official figures took to social media platforms to express their grief at the loss of the students
JEDDAH: Grief and heroism are often inseparable — as is the case for a courageous Saudi college duo who drowned while trying to save two children fighting to stay afloat in the Chicopee River in Massachusetts.
Cousins Theeb Al-Yami, 27, and Jaser Al-Rakah, 25, were taking a road trip in the US last Friday when they found the frantic mother and rushed to the scene to help rescue her two children.
Other onlookers also tried to help, but strong currents prevented them from securing the children.
In a desperate bid to reach the pair, the two Saudi students leapt into the river, but were swept away. Both children were able to swim to shore.
A police search found one student’s body last Saturday. The body of the other student was retrieved on Monday. The two students’ names were released on Tuesday.
Al-Yami was an engineering student in his fourth year at Hartford University, while Al-Rakah enrolled in the University of New England last fall to study civil engineering.
Both were believed to be a month away from graduating.
Al-Yami’s brother Shabbab told the local newspaper Sabq that he spoke to his sibling only last week when he was in Makkah. “He asked me to pray for him and my cousin, as they were in the midst of working on their graduation projects. He also spoke to me about their plans for the future and their aspirations, but death was upon them,” Shabbab said.
The students’ families say they have been overwhelmed by the reaction and sympathy of other families, saying that it has helped ease their suffering and loss. They praised the work of Prince Khalid bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador in the US, to ensure the return of their sons’ bodies, which is expected on Saturday.
The tragic event has left the nation with a sense of pride — and heartbreak.
Several official figures took to social media platforms to express their grief at the loss of the students.
Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Education, Dr. Ahmed bin Mohammad Al-Issa, tweeted: “I offer my sincerest condolences to the scholarship students, Theeb Al-Yami and Jaser Al-Rakah, who drowned as a result of heroic act in the US.”