Hero father dies in Florida after saving drowning 8-year-old daughter from rip current

A Georgia father drowned on Tuesday after saving his 8-year-old daughter from a dangerous rip current in Florida, the Fort Myers News-Press reports. 

Thomas Zakrewski, 46, drowned off the coast of Upper Captiva Island after he, his daughter and at least four other members of his family experienced trouble in the water while walking along a sandbar, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office told the paper. 

A distress call reportedly went out at around 5:30 p.m. that day, and the Upper Captiva Fire District arrived at the scene to find between six and eight people struggling to get out of the water. 

Chief Jason Martin of the island’s fire department told the News-Press that four members of the family managed to escape but Zakrewski was swept away by the outgoing rip tide after passing his daughter to her mother. 

The department, along with law enforcement, purportedly spent three hours searching for the father before divers from the U.S. Coast Guard stepped in to assist with the effort. A video from the sheriff’s office shows searchers scanning the waters by boat and helicopter. 

Later that night, the rescue team located Zakrewski’s body nearly a half-mile from where he was last seen.

According to the National Weather Service, 28 deaths in the U.S. this year have been officially attributed to rip currents. Twelve of them have occurred in Florida alone. Authorities, however, have yet to determine whether Zakrewski’s death was the result of being caught in one. 

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