A father made the ultimate sacrifice to save his 8-year-old daughter from drowning on the coast of Florida on Tuesday.

Thomas Zakrewski was enjoying the day with his family, who had decided to walk along a curbed sandbar located on Upper Captiva Island in Florida. They were walking along the beach around 5:30 p.m. EST when Zakrewski’s wife noticed her husband and daughter were no longer with them. She turned around to find the pair struggling in the water and immediately jumped in to help.

Zakrewski and his daughter had been swept into the water by a sudden riptide that hit the beach and made it difficult for them to stay above water. While she ran in to help, he focused on keeping his daughter above water while they were being knocked around by the tide. Zakrewski’s wife managed to get to them in time for him to pass their daughter to her, but continued to struggle against the tide himself. Despite her best efforts, Zakrewski was eventually swept under the water and his wife was unable to find her.

Members of the Lee County Sheriff’s Department, along with other search-and-rescue agencies, arrived shortly after the incident and began searching the area for any signs of Zakrewski. However, search efforts were made more difficult due to rough water and winds that may have played into the father and daughter getting swept out.

U.S. Coast Guard ultimately located Zakrewski’s body a half-mile from where he was last seen three hours later. While cause of death wasn’t immediately identified, it’s suspected he drowned after being swept underwater by the riptide.

Visitors walk along the beach at high tide the day before the expected landfall of Hurricane Irene in Atlantic Beach Visitors walk along the beach at high tide the day before the expected landfall of Hurricane Irene in Atlantic Beach Photo: Reuters