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‘Hero’ Dad Drowns While Saving Daughter

August 2, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

Left mourning a father and husband who drowned at a campground, the devastated family of a Redcliff, Alberta, man are hailing him a hero for saving his daughter’s life, the Toronto Sun reported.

Chris Sheppard, 33, was on shore watching his wife Kaylea and daughters Korri, 6, and Gracie, 3, kayak with a family friend Saturday (July 30) at Cavan Lake Campground, 12 miles east of Medicine Hat, Alberta, when the two boats suddenly overturned.

His wife and older daughter, who wasn’t wearing a life-jacket, were in one kayak and Gracie, who was wearing the flotation device, and the friend were in the other when one vessel tipped and then the other, said Sheppard’s brother Jamie.

Sheppard quickly leaped into the lake and swam to aid Korri, while Kaylea and her friend made it safely to shore with Gracie.

“They started swimming back to shore and Chris had her on his back,” he said. “He knew it was either him or her.”

One camper jumped in to help, pulling the girl to safety, but Sheppard, who had slipped under the surface a few times during his swim back to shore, disappeared beneath the water.

Campers alerted campground caretaker Tony Dirk, who grabbed a boat and raced to the water with another man.

By the time they arrived, Sheppard was already back on shore with a small crowd of people working desperately to revive him.

Despite efforts by a bystander who performed CPR until ambulances and police arrived, he died.

Jamie described his brother as a “half decent” swimmer, but one who has been heroic before.

“This is not the first time he has done something like this,” he said.

Sheppard, who was originally from Newfoundland, once saved his cousin from an icy lake using his hand that had just had fingers reattached following an accident.

And in high school, he saved a friend from an icy lake too, he said.

“He is a hero in more ways than one and he will never be forgotten,” Jamie said. “He could be in a foul mood and still put a smile on your face.

“I will remember him as my quirky brother, he was just a fun guy to be around.”

The drowning has also cast a pall over the campground and those who watched the tragedy unfold from shore.

“There were two or three people who worked really hard and they were shaken up the next day,” Dirk said.

“This is the first tragedy we’ve had at Cavan Lake. I’ve been here for 12 years and nothing like this has ever happened here.”

Dirk said the family had been frequenting the campground throughout the summer, kayaking the lake regularly.

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