Brazilian TV star Domingos Montagner died from drowning in the northeastern state of Sergipe, Thursday, September 15, the Associated Press reports. He was 54.
Per the AP, the incident occurred close to where he shot scenes for his popular soap opera, Velho Chico — a detail that may have tragically contributed to his death. After a day of filming, he and costar Camila Pitanga decided to go swimming in the Sao Francisco River in Caninde.
Montagner was apparently dragged away by a strong current, and he was found 1,000 feet from where he was last spotted several hours later. His body was lodged between two rocks 60 feet below the surface.
Pitanga told police that she was able to pull herself up on a rock and tried to grab Montagner's hand twice. She reportedly cried for help while trying to save Montagner before contacting authorities. Locals, however, didn't intervene because they thought the stars were shooting a scene for the show.
"[The stars] thought the area they picked to swim was safe, but, in fact, it's one of the most dangerous places to bathe," Antonio Francisco Filho, a local government official said in a statement, via AP. "This is a part of the river in Caninde that isn't common for bathers."
Montagner was a circus performer before his TV career took off. In a previous episode of Velho Chico, his character was shot and left for dead in the Sao Francisco River.
Montagner is survived by his wife, actress Luciana Lima, and three children.
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