A Georgia father drowned off the coast of Florida while he attempted to rescue his eight-year-old daughter who got trapped in a strong rip current. Thomas Zakrewski was with his wife and daughter on Upper Captiva Island, which sits off the coast near Fort Meyers, when the young girl got pulled into the Gulf of Mexico by the rip current.
Zakrewski jumped into the water to try to pull the girl back to the shore. When Zakrewski's wife, who had walked ahead of her husband and daughter, realized what happened, she jumped into the water as well. Zakrewski was able to get his daughter to her mother and both mother and daughter two swam safely back to the shore.
Zakrewski was unable to battle the strong current and got pulled underneath the water.
"Immediately, the mother jumped into the water, and the father managed to pass the child to her," the Lee County Sheriff's Department said in a statement. "Unfortunately, the father continued to struggle and disappeared into the water."
Rescue teams from the U.S. Coast Guard, the Lee County Sheriff's Department, and the Upper Captiva Island Fire Department searched the water desperately trying to locate the 46-year-old. They had to deal with rough water and high winds and spent nearly five hours combing the shore for any sign of Zakrewski. Rescuers found his body about a half-mile from where he disappeared.
Officials say there was a rip current warning in the area at the time due to a tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico. The depression has since strengthened into a tropical storm. Forecasters are predicting it will become a hurricane before making landfall on the coast of Louisiana this weekend.