03/26/2014 11:27 EDT

Woody Wudkevich Rescues Boy From Drowning, But Can't Save Dad


Robert Wudkevich is being called a hero for saving a seven-year-old boy while on vacation in Cuba, but the Nelson, B.C. man is haunted by the fact he couldn't rescue the boy's father.

Wudkevich, who is known as Woody, was sleeping on the beach at a resort in Varadero last week when a stranger woke him to help an Ottawa family in trouble, reported CBC News.

Yue Liu had been playing in the water with his son, Connor, when an undertow pulled them into deeper water.

Liu, 40, tried to hold his son's head above the water and screamed for help, said a website set up to raise money for the Liu family.

"I cannot save you anymore" were the last words Liu said to his son.

Wudkevich swam 200 metres into the ocean and reached Connor, who was struggling on his back in the water. "I managed to grab him and I looked to see his dad and a wave had taken him further away," Wudkevich told CTV News.

The glass business owner carried Connor to shore alone, while others swam out to pull Liu back. The father could not be revived.

"Every time I close my eyes, I see it over and over in my head, and I try to rationalize if I did the right thing and if there's more I could have done," Wudkevich told CBC News.

Liu's wife, Fanyan Bu, and daughter, 9, who had been on the beach that day, are back home in Ottawa where members of the Chinese community are trying to raise $30,000 to cover the cost of bringing Liu's body back to Canada and for a funeral.

Liu, who worked in IT, did not have any travel or life insurance.

Also on HuffPost

Bride Rescues Boy From Drowning