‘Hero’ still missing after trying to save drowning father, toddler swept out by current in Florida

U.S. & World

APOLLO BEACH, Fla. (WFLA) – Authorities have scaled back search and rescue efforts for the Good Samaritan who went missing after they tried to rescue a father and a toddler who drowned off Apollo Beach, a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman said Sunday.

The Good Samaritan was identified Saturday as 27-year-old Kristoff Murray.

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said deputies received a frantic 911 call from Murray’s girlfriend when the three were swept away with the current at the Apollo Beach Nature Preserve.

The father and the toddler, who is believed to be approximately 3 years old, did not survive. Their bodies were recovered around 9 p.m. Friday.

As of Sunday morning, crews have yet to find Murray.

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Natalia Verdina said authorities have scaled back their search for Murray, but crews will continue to conduct spot checks and patrol the are as they regularly do.

“Couldn’t be more grateful for his heroic actions. Unfortunately, the current was just that strong that he wasn’t able to attempt any rescue efforts either as good and as pure as his intentions were,” Chronister said.

Sheriff Chronister said the tragedy serves as an important reminder for families heading to the beach over the summer.

“When you have areas that are clearly marked ‘no swimming,’ it’s for a reason. I’m asking every parent out there, don’t put an infant child near any type of moving or open body of water without having a life jacket on,” Chronister warned.

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