Bystanders were able to safely bring the child ashore after Christopher Schultz, 32, leaped into Dead Shot bay on Detroit lake and kept the toddler afloat on June 15, according to local media reports. But rescuers could not reach Schultz, of nearby Frazee, Minnesota, who didn’t resurface after struggling to keep the child alive.
The incident occurred at around 8:20 p.m. on June 15 , when the toddler slipped through the guardrails of the wooden sidewalk that runs alongside Long Bridge over Detroit Lake.
The bridge is a popular spot for fishing.
It took the Becker County Dive Team another 40 minutes before they found Schultz in the water, with help from a local fisherman. He was pronounced dead at the hospital in the city of Detroit Lakes, reported KVRR.
The child was treated for non-life-threatening injuries, according to local reports.
A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help pay for the funeral expenses.
According to CBS, there is an ongoing investigation into the incident.
In some reports, Schultz was said to be 31 years old.
Friends and neighbors praised Schultz for his heroism, saying he will always be remembered as a selfless person, according to Valley News.
“Without a hesitation jumping in—that’s heroic, to me that’s an honorable death,” said Matthew Clark, who first met him 10 years ago.
“Guy just sacrificed his life to make sure his kid could see another day,” Clark said.
Kayla Zajac said she and her husband were shocked by his death.
“My kids always come first before my safety and I would’ve done the same thing,” Zajac said.
She said that they would go fishing with Schultz.
Most Common Cause of Child Death
Drowning is the leading cause of death for young children, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)—mostly due to falling into a pool or being left in a bathtub.
The CPSC states: “Of the 3,786 drownings in 2016, more than 12 percent were children age 4 and younger, according to Injury Facts. Bathtubs, toilets, and even buckets also can pose a danger for very young children.”
“Most parents think water safety is first and foremost on their minds whenever they are enjoying summer activities with their young kids. But when the unthinkable happens, caregivers often say, ‘I only looked away for a second.’”
Exactly what age is appropriate to leave a child alone in a bathtub is a matter for debate among experts, but many say they should be at least school age.
Dana Walraven, manager of Community Health Outreach at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, said parents should never leave a child unsupervised in the bathtub.
If a doorbell rings, parents should get the child out of the bathtub to answer it, he said.
“A child can drown in the time it takes to answer the phone,” Walraven said in a 2018 news release, reported the Star-Telegram. “We ask parents for constant supervision of their child while in the water.”