Dad dies after jumping in NC lake to give son, friend his life jacket, officials say

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Crews have recovered the body of a North Carolina dad who jumped in a lake to save two children on Friday.

Francisco Hernandez, 34 of St. Pauls, was pulling his son and a family friend on a float behind a personal watercraft in Lake Waccamaw when the two boys jumped in the water and “appeared to be struggling,” according to Michele Walker, spokesperson for the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

Neither boy was wearing a life jacket, Walker said.

Hernandez jumped in the water to give the boys his life jacket, Walker said.

The boys made it safely to shore, Walker said, but Hernandez wasn’t able to get back to his watercraft before going under due to “wind and waves.”

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Crews from multiple agencies searched the lake for Hernandez using boats divers and a helicopter, Walker said.

His body was recovered from the lake mid-morning Sunday, Walker said. He is believed to have drowned.

Lake Waccamaw is in Columbus County, about 124 miles south of Raleigh.

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