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Dad Drowns Saving His 8-Year-Old Daughter From Florida Riptide

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A family beach trip turns into a tragedy as father drowns saving his daughter

A Georgia dad saved his 8-year-old daughters life when she struggled to swim in the ocean. Sadly, after passing his daughter to his wife, Thomas Zakrewski drowned after he was unable to stay afloat.

Zakrewski, 46, his wife, and daughter were visiting southwest Florida from Georgia.

The family was walking along a sandbar at Captiva Island near Fort Myers when the incident occurred.

His wife had gotten ahead of them when she looked back and saw Zakrewski struggling in the water with his daughter. She immediately jumped in to help them.

Zakrewski struggled but managed to hand their daughter off to his wife. He was unable to stay afloat after getting his daughter to safety and struggled in the water before disappearing under the surf.

Search and rescue from multiple agencies responded to the scene after a Maritime Emergency Response Team call went out around 5:30 p.m. Their efforts in recovering Zakrewski were slowed down by rough water and high winds, according to the sheriff’s office.

UPDATE #2: The decedent from yesterday's incident in Captiva has been identified as Thomas Zakrewski (DOB 10/06/1972).UPDATE #1:The search for the missing male has ended as his body has been located. ORIGINAL POST:On Tuesday, July 9, 2019, the Lee County Sheriff's Office received a call for service at approximately 5:38 pm regarding a missing adult male swimmer.A family walked along a curved sandbar on the shore of Upper Captiva when the mother, walking ahead of her family, glanced backward and discovered that her husband and 8-year-old child were struggling in the water.Immediately, the mother jumped into the water and the father managed to pass the child to her. Unfortunately, the father continued to struggle and disappeared into the water.The Marine Emergency Response Team (MERT) was activated and a multi-agency search began immediately. The United States Coast Guard, FWC, Sanibel and Captiva Fire Departments joined the Lee County Sheriff's Office Marine Unit and Aviation Unit in the search for the missing male.Rough waters and considerable wind continue to hamper MERT efforts.As of 9:15 pm, the team has yet to locate the missing man.Updated information will be provided when available.

Posted by Lee County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday, July 9, 2019
The Marine Emergency Response Team’s search for Thomas Zakrewski

The U.S. Coast Guard and sheriff’s office recovered Zakrewski’s body after a three-hour search, a half-mile from where he was swept away.

Dangerous waters

There have been 28 rip current related deaths across the U.S. so far this year, according to the National Weather Service. Of those 28 deaths, 12 have occurred at Florida beaches.

It’s difficult to accurately determine the exact number of drowning-related deaths, the NWS cautions. This is because they often go unreported and undocumented.

Swimmers who get caught in a rip current should swim parallel to shore and back to land at an angle, advises the National Ocean Service.

It’s easy to panic, making the mistake of trying to swim straight to shore, as many people end up attempting. But remembering how to escape a rip current will help save lives.

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