A Georgia family is grieving after a loved one died in what authorities are calling a “tragic accidental drowning.”
The body of Jeremiah Israel Jr., 33, was recovered Monday after he died trying to save his father from drowning during a weekend fishing trip on West Point Lake, according to the Troup County Sheriff’s Office.
Israel and his father, 64-year-old Jeremiah Israel Sr., had gone fishing late Sunday night at the lake, near Lagrange, Georgia. Tragedy struck just after 12:30 a.m. when the elder Israel woke from a nap and mistakenly walked off the boat, thinking he was at home.
Jeremiah’s younger brother, Hananiah Israel, said their father fell asleep on the watercraft and was “disoriented” when he woke up in the middle of the night.
“He woke up, and walked out like he was home in his room or whatever,” Hananiah told WSB-TV. “[He] Walked into the water … and my brother tried to save him. My brother can’t swim.”
Jeremiah jumped in after their father, but never resurfaced.
Nearby boaters were able to pull the elder fisherman from the water. Jeremiah Sr. was promptly treated and released from a local hospital.
His son’s body wasn’t recovered until several hours later, around 11 a.m. Monday.
“We’re all shook up right now … but we are going to be strong about this,” Hananiah Israel said. “Jeremiah, he’d want us to be strong. I know how he was. He always had a smile on his face.”
Hanniah remembers his brother as a “loving man” with a good soul and said his heroic act speaks volumes about the type of person Jeremiah was.
“It’s just surreal right now,” he told WSB-TV of his baby brother, sidekick and, most important, best friend. “He was definitely a hero for what he did, trying to save my dad.”
The family said they’re still in the process of making funeral arrangements.
According to the station, Israel’s family is originally from Ohio and moved to Georgia just a few years ago.
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