A man who was trying to rescue a child – who was helped from the water and survived – drowned Friday in the Iowa River, according to a news release from the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.

Shortly after 6 p.m., the Joint Emergency Communication Center received a report of a possible drowning in the Iowa River at River Junction Access, 6051 River Junction Road SE, in rural Johnson County. 

When law enforcement arrived, they learned an 8-year-old child had been rescued, but the whereabouts of a man were unknown. Bystanders performed CPR on the child and he was later transported to University of Iowa Hospitals, the release says.

A recovery operation ensued and the man was located about 7:10 p.m. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Witnesses reported that the boy entered the river and began struggling, and the man went into the river and tried to save him, the release says.

A kayaker was able to assist the child from the water, but the man went beneath the surface. The kayaker and another person made repeated attempted to locate the man, but they were unsuccessful. 

The man has been identified as Wegayewu Faris, 42, of Coralville, Iowa. Faris and the child are not related, the release says. They were members of separate families who had come to the river to go fishing. “Both Faris and the bystander were instrumental in saving the life of the 8-year-old child,” the release says. 

This incident is under investigation by the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff’s office was assisted at the scene by Johnson County Conservation, Johnson County Emergency Management, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa State Patrol, Hills Fire Department, Riverside Fire Department, Lone Tree Fire Department, and the Johnson County Medical Examiner.