SALISBURY – Gary Simard, a 44-year-old Methuen father of four whoin an attempt to save his son from a dangerous rip current on Wednesday, has died.
Essex District Attorney Paul Tucker said Simard "had been enjoying the day with family" at Salisbury Beach Wednesday afternoon when his son was pulled away from shore and could not swim in.
A witness told WBZ-TV that the child started calling for help and Simard ran into the water to help.
Two Good Samaritans ran into the water and brought four children back to the beach but could not find Simard. Police and firefighters responded and were able to pull Simard in. Responding EMTs performed CPR on the beach.
Simard was then rushed to the hospital, but the Essex District Attorney said he later died. All four children survived.
Linda Simard, Gary's mother, described him as "the best father ever."
"He died trying to save his son," she said. "My son is a hero. He saved his son and he lost his life for that, but he is my hero."
Simard's father, also named Gary, described the heartwrenching decision the Good Samaritans faced.
"The gentleman who went out had a decision, I guess - to save my grandson or my son. He made the right decision because he almost didn't make it," the elder Gary Simard said, adding that his son died a hero. "We don't know why it happened, what god's purpose is, but he did what he had to do and I feel if he had to do it again, he would."
Kenny Crosby helped pull the boy out of the water.
"The kid was going further, and then the dad was running out. Then the dad was also yelling 'Help.' I had no choice I had to run out there," Crosby said. "Small, teenage kid. His dad looked like he was struggling. The kid grabbed my hand. We started swimming, and I don't know. It was just like survival mode."
Police said the surf has been rough in recent weeks.
for more features.