According to the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Department, 9-year-old Tyler Stefan and 8-year-old Benjamin Bignell were swimming on a private beach in Westfield, New York when high winds and choppy waters pulled the inner tube they were on away from shore.
Christen Stefan swam to the boys' rescue, but the trio was swept into even deeper waters, eventually taking shelter in a cove along the rocky cliff line. Stefan and Benjamin were able to climb to safety but Tyler slipped, falling back into the water.
Stefan again jumped in the water after her son, but this time she did not reemerge.
Tyler continued to drift 200 yards of shore when local man Matt Ward noticed and swam out to rescue him.
"I saw him down at the other end, and he was down there and everyone else is in pants and jeans and I said, 'I'm a lifeguard and I'm going in,'" Ward told local reporters.
Tyler was rushed to the emergency room where he is currently being treated for hypothermia, but rescuers were unable to revive Stefan and she was pronounced dead at the scene.