POMPANO BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida man has died after he helped rescue some swimmers in distress in Pompano Beach.

According to those who knew Gary Cappellucci, he lost his life on New Year’s Day saving others while his family watched from the shore.

“If you knew Gary or didn’t know Gary, it didn’t matter. He was going to help you,” family friend Heather Holland said. “They were on the beach. They, unfortunately, have to live with seeing this now for the rest of their lives.”

Cappellucci was spending the holiday at the beach with his wife and two children when he noticed several swimmers stuck in a rip current.

“He ran right down to the water,” Holland said. “He was able to assist in saving the poor kids.”

Soon after, the struggling swimmers swam back to shore without Cappellucci. That’s when his family called for help but learned the devastating news.

“Mr. Cappellucci did not get out of the water. He passed away,” Broward Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Bryan Tutler said.

Cappellucci, who would have turned 51 in February, leaves behind his wife, his two children. He also leaves behind a lasting legacy of a man who, loved ones said, always put others before himself.

“They’re doing as good as can be expected,” Holland said. “They’re trying to be strong. They understand why he went in, and knowing Gary, of course he went in, but unfortunately, they have to see those in their memories now.”

Those close to the family have created a GoFundMe page to help support them during this time.

Copyright 2023 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox