Atlanta Teen Drowns Trying to Save 4 Children He Didn't Know Who Were Caught in Rip Tide

Bryce Brooks
Bryce Brooks.Instagram

Bryce Brooks was on vacation in Florida with his family and friends when he ran into the water to help four children in distress. "He literally saved the lives of four kids at the expense of his own," his distraught father said.

A 16-year-old on vacation with his family drowned after he ran into the waters off a Florida beach to help four children caught in a rip tide.

Bryce Brooks did not know the kids in distress, but that did not stop him from trying to rescue them, his distraught parents said in a news conference.

"He literally saved the lives of four kids at the expense of his own," said his father, Shivy Brooks.

The family had traveled from their Atlanta home to Pensacola with other friends and families last week for a spring break vacation. Longtime family friend Charles Johnson II, who the Brooks called "Uncle Chuck," went in after Bryce, was pulled under and died as well, the father said.

The four children were eventually pulled from the water and survived.

"Our family is devastated," he said. "Our community is devastated." 

The drownings occurred on a section of beach without lifeguards, and yellow flags were flying at the time, indicating moderate currents, according to local reports.

Their pain is overwhelming, the parents said, but they are nonetheless proud of their son for trying to save others.

"We're never gonna get to see Bryce grow up to be the full man he was going to be. But we know that he stepped into his manhood to save these children and that makes me proud," said his mother, Crystal Brooks.

"It doesn't take away an ounce of pain, but it makes me proud of our son and what he sacrificed. And I'll forever hold that," she said.

A fundraising GoFundMe campaign created to help the family had raised more than $83,000 as of Wednesday.

Bryce Brooks had just made the honor roll at his high school, his parents said. He had a creative mind and was passionate about music and fashion.

"Bryce’s actions helped to save several lives," wrote the organizers of the fundraising effort. "We cannot even begin to understand the unimaginable impact this has had on their family, friends, and loved ones, but know the power of this community."

The post also asked for prayers for Bryce's 6-year-old sibling, Christian, "as he learns of the loss of his brother. Our heart breaks for him and continues to break for their entire family."

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