Jacob Farley was on a float trip with friends when he saw a woman go under water on the Elk River in Missouri, family members and police say.
Farley, 26, jumped into the water and swam to the woman, whom he did not know, to save her from drowning near a dam in Noel on Friday, according to a Missouri Highway Patrol report.
“I felt his hand on my back as I tried to get on my floatie after going under,” Paola resident Madison Capps, 21, said, according to The Miami County Republic.
Capps told the newspaper she and Farley spent about 30 minutes trying to stay afloat until emergency responders arrived.
“(Capps) had a small float and Jacob kept pushing (her) back on the float to keep her head above water,” Jacob’s stepmother, Shelley Farley, wrote on a GoFundMe page.
Noel Fire Department firefighters threw a rope to rescue her, but Farley went underwater, police said.
“Without him there, I don’t think I would have been able to hold on as long as I did,” Capps said, according to the newspaper.
Farley was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. His death brings the total number of drownings in Missouri to 19 so far this year, according to police.
“I will never forget the sacrifice you made,” Capps wrote in a Facebook post about Farley.
Farley’s family is remembering him as a hero.
“He didn’t think twice about jumping in to save a complete stranger,” Shelley Farley wrote on the GoFundMe page, which had raised more than $7,000 by Monday evening. “He is a true hero and died saving someone else’s life with no regard for his own.”