A Phoenix-area father died at Fossil Creek Sunday when he jumped in to rescue his son, authorities said.

Gary Gaytano, 51, went under at an area known as The Falls and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Gila County Sheriff’s Office.

Gaytano helped his son to shore, then slipped under the water, the Sheriff’s Office reported. Relatives pulled Gaytano from the bottom of a pool and preformed “life-saving efforts.” 

Fossil Creek, about 80 miles northeast of Phoenix near Strawberry, is one of only two rivers in Arizona designated as Wild and Scenic. The river attracts throngs of visitors during summer months.

Yavapai County Search and Rescue, Copper Canyon Fire and the Arizona Department of Public Safety Ranger Helicopter responded with the Sheriff’s Office to Fossil Creek on Sunday.

The Sheriff’s Office said it is continuing to investigate Gaytano’s death and will release more information as it becomes available.

Reach the reporter at [email protected] or 602-444-8694. Follow him on Twitter @robertanglen

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