A U.S. Army reservist sacrificed his life to save his soon-to-be stepdaughter from drowning in a North Texas lake. Family and friends remembered the man as a hero who served his country and dreamed of becoming a firefighter.
Brandyn Jarell Mitchell took his fiancée, Angelia Herrera, and her 6-year-old daughter Keira to Lake Ray Roberts on Saturday. At about 1 p.m. he noticed Keira struggling to climb back onto a flotation device. Without thought, he dove into the lake to attempt to help get her back onto the safety of the float, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
“He was already on the float with her when she was struggling to hang on,” Herrera told the newspaper. “He helped her, told her not to let go, then slipped.”
Mitchell dove back into the water to try and save Keira again, but he disappeared from sight. About three hours later, a dive rescue team from the Lewisville Fire Department recovered his lifeless body from the lake.
Lake Ray Hubbard is located about an hour north of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Mitchell was a resident of the nearby town of Valley View.
Mitchell’s fiancée said his friends say that such acts of heroism were not uncommon for the Army reservist.
“He was in the process of enrolling in college to become a firefighter. He wanted to be a firefighter because he wanted to save lives. Running in when everyone is running out. He wanted to be a hero, not just once but every chance he could,” she explained. “Shortly put, he was an amazing man and I am lucky to have known him.”
Mitchell’s mother, Stacy Thompson, said her son signed up for the Tennessee National Guard after graduating from high school. He served the Guard for six years, she said.
“Being in the Army and all that, he could swim like a fish. That’s why I can’t understand what happened,” Thompson told the reporter during a phone interview. “He played football when he was in high school. He was a big Dallas Cowboys fan.”
Fox News reported that the water at Isle du Bois is about six feet deep where the drowning occurred.
Mitchell and Herrera set a date for their wedding on Saturday morning before driving to the lake where he would give his life to save her daughter. One year earlier, she gave birth to Mitchell’s youngest son. He leaves behind two other children, Paris and Trenton Mitchell, the Star-Telegram reported.
“He was an amazing father,” Herrera said. “He was loved and will be missed. No matter what, he was a hero.”