Porter, Indiana -- A 38-year-old teacher lost his life while trying to rescue a teenage girl in Indiana.

Thomas Kenning of St. Petersburg, Florida, was holidaying and visiting family at the time of the incident. He was at Porter Beach with his daughter, sister, mother, and other relatives when he saw the teenager in distress in Lake Michigan and ran into the water to help her.

"Tom was standing next to me and I could tell he was wanting to go help and I said don't do it, you're not strong enough swimmer and he hesitated. He took off his hat and handed me his phone and went out," Kenning’s mother, Sharon Kenning told ABC Action News.

He had even coached his daughter before the beach trip about "the safety of the water and us not being able to go in the water. He was fully aware of the danger he was putting himself in," the victim’s sister, Laura Saylor, added.

Kenning’s attempt to save the girl cost him his life. Porter Fire Chief Jay Craig said the girl made it out with the help of lifeguards from Dunes State Park while the teacher drowned.

Lifeguards managed to recover his body Monday, WESH 2 News reported. It is believed Kenning was in the water for about 15 minutes before his body was found in the waves about 25 feet from shore, Chesterton Fire Chief Eric Camel said.

“My last image of him is standing in the water holding his hand out to her," Sharon told 10 Tampa Bay WTSP.

“His last breath was literally for someone else," his wife Jasmine added.

The family said Kenning taught for years at Plato Academy Schools and has penned several books on nature and history. His students praised him for being a teacher who made learning fun for them.

They also said they weren’t surprised that he tried to save a girl in distress.

“It was such a Mr. Kenning way to go, he always put others first," Emily Gardner, one of his former students, told the outlet.

A GoFundMe page was created to raise funds to support the bereaved family and for donations that will support nonprofits that Kenning “loved and believed in.”

"It’s kind of a mix of feelings. We feel proud of him. We feel like he’s a hero like Tom always is, but there is a selfish part of us that still wants him here with us," Saylor told ABC Action News.

Sharon said it will be Kenning’s daughter that is most affected by his death.

"It’s going to be a huge loss for her and she was there she witness this," she told the outlet. "He was a very engaged father."

Representative image Credit: Pixabay / Miller_Eszter