Drowning Victim's Mother: Learn From My Son

July 5, 2013 Updated Jul 5, 2013 at 6:48 PM EDT

By Rachel Elzufon

July 5, 2013 Updated Jul 5, 2013 at 6:48 PM EDT

Lackawanna, NY (WKBW) - A Fourth of July swim turns deadly for a teenage boyfriend and girlfriend, who both drowned while swimming in what many call a dangerous body of water.

"I can't explain the feeling -- I can't, it's like a dream," says Dondre Herring's mother, Sharon Robinson.

The 17-year-old's family is in disbelief, after founding out that Dondre and his 16-year-old girlfriend, Alexis Matte, drowned in the Union Ship Canal in South Buffalo on Thursday night.

"He was so lovable," says Robinson. "Kind-hearted -- even if you were mad at him, he would always smile and try to make you laugh."

Robinson describes Dondre as a normal teenager -- and incredible bright. He recently graduated from Lackawanna High School, and wanted to be a lawyer in the Army.

"He had a little stout in him," Robinson says. "The way he talked and convinced people -- always trying to convince me to do something."

Dondre, his older brother and a cousin all planned to take a test together for the military in October. Robinson says her son scored a 100-percent on a pre-test, and the military wanted to recruit him right away.

Those dreams have now been cut short.

Robinson says she warned her son to stay away from the Union Ship Canal before.

"I kept telling him, no you're not going down there, you're not a pro -- you're not a professional swimmer," Robinson says.

"Please do not jump from that bridge. Dondre's an example. Now look at Dondre. Please stay away from that water, that's all I got to say," the grieving mother adds.

Sharon Robinson adds the family is struggling to find a way to pay for Dondre's funeral. Anyone who wishes to donate can contact Robinson at 716-228-6257.