40-year-old man pronounced dead after attempting to rescue two kids from water at North Beach

NOW: 40-year-old man pronounced dead after attempting to rescue two kids from water at North Beach

RACINE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The Missouri man who drowned while trying to save two kids from Lake Michigan in Racine, has been identified by authorities as 40-year-old Thomas Walker. 

The Racine County Sheriff's Office said they are keeping Thomas in their thoughts and prayers as they marvel at his brave and selfless actions. 

Thomas' family stated, “He was a kind soul and an amazing uncle to his niece and nephews. And how we lost him is a testament to how great an uncle and all-around guy he was. [We] never met a person who didn't like him. He is missed greatly.”

Published: 3:39 p.m. on Aug. 22, 2021

RACINE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A 40-year-old Montgomery City, Missouri man passed away after attempting to rescue two kids from Lake Michigan at North Beach in Racine, Sunday, August 22.

The Racine County Sheriff’s Office announced that on Saturday, at approximately 3:04 p.m., deputies were dispatched to North Beach for an individual who was unaccounted for after he went into Lake Michigan at North Beach.

Initial reports indicate that two male children were in the water just to the north of North Pier by large rocks and showed that they were in distress.

"The kids were pretty excited to see all of the responses, we knew that it was not a obviously good sign to see that at the beach," said beach goer Katie Borkowski.

She said when her family saw the various first responders, right away she thought of the other stories this summer.

"Especially with the kids around we are afraid of, obviously the rip tides and currents that we knew were happening very often around this areas while they know that there were several deaths or drownings recently," said Borkowski.

Officials say an adult male relative then proceeded to enter the water to save the children.

"There were struggling, just South of North Beach," said Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling, "He was successful in in rescuing them, but unfortunately he never emerged."

The Racine County Sheriff reports that the adult male assisted in the rescue of the young children; however, he did not emerge from the water.

Authorities indicate the Racine County Sheriff’s Boat was already in the area of the incident and quickly began to search for the man.

At approximately 4:01 p.m., the adult male was rescued from the water and emergency lifesaving efforts were initiated.

The adult male was later transported to Ascension All Saints Hospital on Spring St., where he was pronounced dead.

“The Sheriff’s Office commends the heroic actions of the man who assisted in saving the lives of these two young children," Sheriff Schmaling said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with him, his family, and his loved ones. We also encourage people to take the time to investigate current lake conditions before entering Lake Michigan and take all necessary precautions. This, like the other unfortunate drownings this summer, are tragic, incredibly sad, and preventable.”

The Racine County Sheriff's Office said the victim was visiting Racine with his family.

The Sheriff’s Office has also been informed that all the involved parties are from the State of Missouri.

The victim is described as a 40-year-old white male, whose name is being withheld until notification can be made to his entire family.

An autopsy will be performed later this week.

Officials report that the two children involved in the water incident are safe.

The Sheriff’s Office announced they are aware that the US National Weather Service had issued a warning of hazardous water conditions along Lake Michigan, including the beaches of Racine County, from the early morning hours of today’s date through 7:00 p.m.

Sheriff Schmaling said in addition to the warning, this tragedy all happened in an area where there aren’t lifeguards on duty, next to signs warning that it isn't safe to swim.

"We have to recognize and pay attention and do our due diligence when it comes to these signs and these, these warnings out here," said Sheriff Schmaling.

This warning included the possibility of life-threatening waves up to five feet in height and dangerous currents.

The Racine County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the South Shore Fire Department, City of Racine Fire Department, the Racine County Dive Team, and other emergency assets during today's rescue attempt. 

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