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LCSO: Father dies saving his 7-year-old child from Bonita Springs Dog Beach waters

Current warning at Bonita Springs Dog Beach
Lee County Sheriff's Office
Posted at 7:35 PM, Jul 18, 2023

BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. — A man is dead after being pulled from the water at the Bonita Springs Dog Beach, where he attempted to save his child and dog from a rip current Tuesday afternoon.

The Lee County Sheriff's Office (LCSO) told Fox 4 the man was with his seven-year-old son when the child went into the water for a dog toy. The father went to rescue his child, but instead lost his own life.

Fox 4's Briana Brownlee spoke with Bonita Springs Assistant Fire Chief Jason Brod, who said the man was caught in the current and couldn't get out.
“I can’t even imagine losing my child or thinking about losing my child or my grandchild," said Errin Jones, a beachgoer at Bonita Springs Dog Beach. “I can understand, anyone will jump right in after their kid or any kid. That’s just awful.”

Assistant Chief Brod said multiple agencies arrived on the scene Tuesday evening for a possible drowning. When they arrived, crews found the man on a little island between the dog beach and Lovers Key.  

According to the incident report, the child was retrieved by a witness who made the 911 call. The father and the dog were too far out from the beach to be reached.

Meanwhile, a second witness on a paddleboard in the water called out to the man but received no response. The paddleboarder was able to reach him and pulled him onto the beach.

At that point, witnesses believed the man had been face-down in the water for around five minutes.

The U.S. Coast Guard arrived on scene shortly after and took over chest compression on the victim.

“The outgoing tide was very strong, and bystanders said he got caught in that tide," Assistant Chief Brod said.

As many people are out on the water this time of year, Bonita Springs Fire is reminding swimmers of the possibility of significant currents on islands.
“If a current is more than you can handle, you're supposed to go with the current and not swim against it," Assitant Chief Brod said.
LCSO did confirm the child was rescued and is now safe.