Man dies saving wife from rip current, then his dad dies trying to save him, friend says
An Arizona CrossFit coach drowned while saving his wife from a rip current while on a family trip to spread his grandpa’s ashes in Puerto Rico, news outlets reported.
Damien Walker, 33, from Phoenix was on a family trip to Puerto Rico with his wife and entire family to spread his paternal grandfather’s ashes, according to 12 News.
“Coach Damian spent most of his life as everyone’s hero based on his commitment to putting others before himself and demonstrating what it means to be larger-than-life,” Wildfire CrossFit, the gym where Walker worked, said in an Instagram post honoring him.
On March 3, Walker and his family were spreading the grandfather’s ashes in the ocean when a rip current swept his wife away, according to KPHO.
“Damian jumped in, as he 100% lived his life with that hero mentality, ‘I’m just gonna go in and save them’,” said Tiffany Divelbiss, co-owner of the gym where Walker worked for 10 years, KPHO reported.
Walker’s father dove in after his son and also drowned as a result, according to 12 News. The father’s body was never found.
Walker’s wife, Salmeh, survived the encounter.
“He would be proud of the way things happened. He always wanted to be a superhero, and in the end, that’s the way it ended up,” Skip Divelbiss, co-owner of Wildfire CrossFit told KPHO.
On April 2, what would’ve been Walker’s 34th birthday, Wildfire CrossFit will host a celebration of life to honor Walker and give athletes a chance to try out the “hero workout,” according to a GoFundMe page.
The “hero workout” consists of 33 rounds to honor Walker being 33 years old, to honor the three generations who were lost and to remember that the “tragedy occurred on the third day of the third month,” according to WildFire CrossFit’s Instagram post.
“Damian’s love and passion for life was so evident in every picture anyone ever took of him. Damian always had a smile on his face, he always gave his all to others and always put others first,” his family said in his obituary.
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