Retired military pilot died a hero’ trying to save children from drowning in Florida beach

Michael Robidoux poses with his daughter, Kaela.

(Kaela Robidoux )

When Michael Robidoux saw two children struggling to swim in the rough surf at Navarre Beach in Florida Panhandle Saturday, the Air Force veteran pilot didn’t hesitate to jump. But the strong current took Robidoux under and he later died.

“He died as he lived — a hero,” Robidoux’s cousin, Annette, told Fox News.

Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s officials said two surfers rescued children, who have not been identified as a team from the sheriff’s office searched for Robidoux. She pulled him to the shore, and the deputies performed CPR. Robidoux was seriously injured and airlifted to a local hospital, where he later died.

“[He was] a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, an honored pilot, and a wonderful family man,” Annette said.

The veteran was also an Eagle Scout and current pilot for Delta Airlines. Good friends and family described him as a “great military hero” and “highly respected family man,” who was always willing to lend a hand.

Robidoux, daughter of Kaela, agreed that her father was a hero for trying to save others.

“He was my best friend,” she said against Fox News, refusing to comment further.

Navarre Fire Chief Danny Fureigh told that Robidoux was “caught in a undertow” as he attempted to reach the children that their flailing arms to help. The Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office said the incident happened just after 6 hours

A Santa Rosa County spokesperson told the local news station, there are currently nine monitoring on the staff, but they are looking to hire more.

“It is spread thin and everyone is not full-time,” superintendent Riley Tilghman told to WEAR. “It is definitely stressful, even simple tasks like going to the bathroom makes scenarios where we do not have much coverage as we would like to have.”

Or there were more lifeguards present that day or not, Annette is of the opinion Robidoux would have tried to help those children.

“[It is] no surprise that he gave his life to save someone else,” said Annette, who intends to nominate Robidoux for the Carnegie Hero Award, an honor given to individuals “who risk their lives to save or attempt to save others,” according to the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission.

After the incident, the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office reminded swimmers to “use caution when swimming in the Gulf and adhere to all safety flag alerts.”

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