HOUSTON – Angela Morel Graham knows nothing could bring the love of her life back, but as she grieves and makes funeral arrangements, she’s hoping her pain can spread awareness about rip currents and possibly save someone else’s life.
For Graham, her husband, Joshua, and their three sons, Saturday was set aside to celebrate their oldest son’s 13th birthday at Surfside Beach. A place they’d visit every two weeks.
”The day started with cake, and happy birthday, before we headed to the beach,” Graham said. “We all enjoyed it, it was always just a place of us having fun.“
But this time, a rip current changed their lives forever.
In a selfless act, the 42-year-old father jumped in to save his two sons from being pulled away by the fierce waters.
”I started panicking and yelling,” Graham said.
Nearby, Navy Veteran Rodney Sanders was one of several people who jumped in the water to help.
”I see a wave come over and I see Josh on the wave and I could tell by the way he was on that wave he didn’t look good,” Sanders said during a phone interview Monday. “We formed a chain pulling everybody in fighting the current.”
With limited life vests, Joshua once again sacrificed himself.
”I guess my husband told them to take the boys,” Graham said.
But by the time Joshua was pulled from the water, it was too late.
”He died a hero saving our boys,” Graham said.
If you’re caught in a rip current, experts say it’s best to swim parallel to the shore until you’re free. Angela Graham said she hopes her pain will be enough to have lifeguards put at Surfside Beach and convince others who go there in the meantime to travel with flotation devices.