Second Mississippi dad drowns trying to rescue son off Florida beach

Published 11:48 am Tuesday, July 28, 2020

A second Mississippi father who jumped in the Gulf of Mexico off a Florida beach to rescue his son has drowned.

The Tallahassee Democrat newspaper reports that William Irby, 40, of New Albany, jumped into the water after his son was on a sandbar just off St. George island Monday afternoon.

Irby jumped into the water to rescue the boy, but was caught in choppy water and overcome by the waves.

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Others on the beach were able to rescue the child and bring him back to shore. The reached Irby, but he was unconscious when they pulled him back to the beach. First responders attempted to revive him, but he was pronounced dead at a local hospital, the newspaper reported.

“We’re just saddened that one of our tourists lost their life on our beach today,” Franklin County (Florida) Sheriff A.J. “Tony” Smith said. “The conditions were pretty rough out there.”

“We just ask you to keep them in your prayers, keep them in your thoughts,” the sheriff said. “please, please, please … if you are on our beaches pay attention to the surf conditions. If it’s white-capping out there, it’s probably not safe to be in the water.”

Smith said the conditions changed quickly before the drowning.

“We had a little squall that came through around the same time as this incident,” he said.

Irby is survived by his wife and two small children, the sheriff said.

Irby’s death was the second Mississippi father in less than a week to drown while trying to rescue their children who were in distress. On July 22, A DeSoto County Sheriff’s deputy drowned after rescuing his 10-year-old son. William Nichols, 33, led the sheriff’s office’s search and rescue unit.

The locations of each drowning are more than 100 miles apart, but both are popular vacation spots. Reportedly, the Irby family had just arrived for a vacation on Saturday.