FORT MYERS, Fla. – A Georgia man drowned off Upper Captiva Island while saving his daughter from a rip current, authorities said.
The Lee County Sheriff's Office identified the man as Thomas Zakrewski, 46.
A rescue call went out around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday when Zakrewski and his daughter, who were walking along a sandbar on the island with other family members, had trouble in the water.
Chief Jason Martin of the Upper Captiva Fire District said his agency was the first responder to a call about six to eight people in distress.
A family of adults and children was playing in the surf, Martin said, when they became surrounded by strong currents that trapped them.
Four members of the family escaped. A fifth, Zakrewski, helped rescue his 8-year-old daughter but then was swept away in the outgoing riptide.
U.S. Coast Guard and Lee County Sheriff's Office personnel recovered Zakrewski's body Tuesday night approximately a half-mile from where he was last seen.
A report from the Sheriff's Office said Zakrewski's wife, walking ahead of her family, glanced back and saw her husband and 8-year-old daughter struggling in the water.
The mother jumped in and Zakrewski passed the girl to her, the Sheriff's Office said. He continued to struggle and disappeared into the water.
If Zakrewski's death is ruled to be due to a rip current, it would be Florida's 13th such fatality this year. According to the National Weather Service, there have been 28 deaths across the U.S. this year, 12 in Florida surf zones, attributed to rip currents.
The drowning comes barely two weeks after a Lehigh Acres woman nearly drowned after being caught in a rip current at Blind Pass Beach on Captiva.
Tia Gambrel-Irizarry, 37, was swimming with family June 28 when she was pulled further offshore by the current.
Follow Michael Braun on Twitter: @MichaelBraunNP
This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: Dad drowns after saving daughter from riptide in Florida