A Michigan man died at a Florida beach while trying to save his 6-year-old daughter from drowning just hours before his own father’s memorial service, according to WSBTV. Before noon on Saturday, 28-year-old William Moritz of Detroit and his daughter, Madelynn, went for a swim at Jacksonville Beach.
What was supposed to have been a fun day at the beach soon turned tragic when a “tide pulled Madelynn into the ocean.” Sources say that Moritz stopped at nothing to save his daughter from drowning, but as a result, he lost his own life.
The Michigan father was rushed to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. His daughter was taken to Wolfson Children’s Hospital, where doctors say she sustained non-life threatening injuries and was released the same day.
Moritz was originally in Florida to attend his father’s memorial service, which was being held at Jacksonville Beach. His father, whose name has been withheld, passed away two weeks ago, and according to the Daily Mail, Moritz was extremely close with his father. He reportedly returned to Florida once a year so that his father could spend time with Madelynn.
However, when the relatives of the heroic Michigan father learned that he had died while trying to save his daughter from drowning, they decided to cancel his father’s memorial service.
William Moritz drowns after saving daughter Maddy from drowning at Jacksonville Beach | Daily Mail Online https://t.co/wpQ539g3OM
— Gerry Dworkin (@GeraldMDworkin) April 18, 2016
The tragic incident stunned the drowned victim’s family and friends, especially the mother of his child Magan, who told reporters that Moritz “was the most kindhearted, selfless person I knew.”
“He was the kind of person people were so grateful to have in their life and I was so lucky to have him in mine.”
“His daughter was his world and he always spoke of her with a sparkle in his eyes,” she added. “He took pride in being a father every day. Madelynn was his world. Such an amazing man who I now look to as my hero for courageously saving our beautiful daughter’s life.”
His current girlfriend, Kendra Ramos, who is an assistant general manager at Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott, expressed her grief via Facebook, where she stated, “Something I never said to you was that I loved you. One of the best people I’ve ever met in my life. I’m so sorry that this happened. Rest in peace.”
Bill Horn, who is the captain at Volunteer Life Saving Corps of Jacksonville Beach, told reporters that “every second counts, that’s why lifeguards-in-training are practicing rehearsal drills in case the unexpected happens.”
“No. 1, for safety is do not go out in the water. No. 2, if you’re going to swim, swim near a lifeguard.”
Horn went on to say that as of late, the wind has caused the waves at Jacksonville Beach to soar five feet, which “could easily pull swimmers into a rip current.”
“If you get in a rip current and you’re in the thigh deep water and then you’re suddenly waist deep, chest deep, it happens within five to 10 seconds sometimes,” Horn added. “If you get caught in a rip current, lifeguards say to swim parallel to the shore, then swim back to land at an angle.”
— UJReview (@UJReview) April 18, 2016
The volunteer lifesaver also added that you should “never fight Mother Nature,” and if you find yourself in a rip current, the best option would be to “stay calm to conserve energy and oxygen.”
However, if swimming out of the rip current and back to land is not an option, Horn advises you to “wave your arm and yell for help.”
After the Michigan father died at Jacksonville Beach while trying to save his daughter from drowning, his family and friends set up a GoFundMe page.
According to the site, they are trying to raise $15,000 to “help the family with the funeral, and the many other expenses of getting Moritz back home. Also to help Madelynn with whatever she may need.”
With the help of 49 people, William Moritz’s family has thus far raised $3,165.
[Image via Facebook]