Frederick Pepperman, 53, died while heroically saving his daughters in the rough currents at a beach near Seacrest, Florida
53-year-old Fred Pepperman, husband and father of four daughters from Tennesee, drowned during a family vacation in Florida. Fred was taken underwater by the rough currents on the beach that he was relaxing at with his family, in Seacrest, Florida. As Fred heroically dashed in the overpowering water, in an attempt to save his daughters from drowning, the poor man paid for with his life.
Fred's wife, Julie Pepperman, told local news stations that her husband was a business owner from Tennessee. She tearfully narrated that by the time a good samaritan named Russell Hayes pulled Fred's body to shore, he was motionless and unconscious. After being immediately taken to Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast, the doctors pronounced him dead after failing to detect any vital signs of life. Pepperman was one of two victims that day in Walton County. “Without him, three of mine definitely would be gone,” Julie said of her husband’s heroic actions. “It doesn’t seem real. I just want people to know a lot of dads say they would do it, and he did it, so that’s a dad,” she added.
So heartbreaking 💔 prayers for the family.— Mary Ann (@NYCpomme) July 24, 2019
A wonderful dad protecting his babies! Such a tragic outcome .. I wish that he would still be able to be here for his daughters, but he made the ultimate sacrifice. RIP sir, you are a beautiful soul..— BUTWHATDOESTHATMEAN? (@LindaLouJM) July 25, 2019
The South Walton Fire District posted double-red flag conditions on its Facebook page on Sunday, and throughout the weekend as soon as they got wind of Hurricane Barry barrelling toward Louisiana. The beach safety director, David Vaughan, told another media outlet that "a 53-year-old man from Tennessee entered the water for a rescue attempt for his daughter".
Julie told the press that they were at the beach with their extended family and the "water was fine." They then noticed their 16-year-old daughter was far out from the shore and "you could just see something was wrong." That's when two of her other daughters and her husband went out to get her. She said at one point all six of the family members were in the water. During the chaos, Fred's grief-struck daughter Kathryn said, "Daddy, help me," as they were holding onto dear life in the strong water currents and he said, ‘I got you,". Fred's sister-in-law said that ”Those were the last words he told her (Kathryn).”
Guys... this has to be the saddest thing I’ve read all day 😢. This dad reminds me of my own father and how he saved me from drowning when I was a child. Thankfully, he survived that rescue— BardiSussex 😉 (@AnonymousStan_) July 24, 2019
Heroic dad drowns saving his daughters from riptide in Florida https://t.co/U9gVv23Zir
According to the family's testimony, brave Fred swam out to rescue the girls, using all of his might to bring them to the surface. He tried to get each of his girls onto a board, another family member had brought out to assist in the rescue. While his daughters made it to safety, Fred fell unconscious and had to be pulled back to shore by a group of bystanders who then gave him CPR. Julie later posted on Facebook about her husband's death, saying: "Fred was truly a great man with a big heart and generous spirit. He enjoyed fishing, hunting, thunderstorms, and woodworking. He never met a stranger, was always ready with a smile and a story, and never turned down someone in need."
Fred Pepperman you are a hero. The ultimate sacrifice. RIP. https://t.co/Dfx8sWdIY6— Mike Melchione (@Mike_Melchione) July 25, 2019
The family started a GoFundMe page to help raise funds to put Fred’s daughters through college. It has raised over $30,000 so far, just another 20 short of its 50k goal. “He was a family man and always made those around him feel welcomed and loved,” reads the description on a donation page. “He lived for those around him and dedicated his life to being the most devoted spouse and father possible. He died for the greatest purpose in life, his children,” the message continues. “Freddy will never be forgotten, but life will also never be the same without him.”
Because so much of Florida is at or near sea level, flooding is a common problem. Even a minor flood can be a disaster for the people who are forced to cope with it. Quickly-rising water can cause millions of dollars of damage to homes and businesses. With climate changing, sea levels rising and the constant threat for tropical cyclones, densely populated South Florida is becoming increasingly vulnerable to storm surge flooding. Sea level rise is projected to more than double the risk of a storm surge at that level by 2030.