Body of Kemah Boardwalk employee who jumped into water recovered

By Aaron Barker - Senior Digital Editor, Cory McCord - Digital News Editor, Daniela Sternitzky-Di Napoli - Digital News Editor, Phil Archer - Reporter

KEMAH, Texas - Rescuers on Thursday recovered the body of a Kemah Boardwalk employee who jumped into the water near Galveston Bay to help a distressed kayaker.

Officials said the search for 56-year-old Todd Riddle began about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in the Clear Creek Channel and continued throughout the night into Thursday morning.

What happened

Officials said Riddle jumped into the water after seeing a kayak tip over and the kayaker appear to be struggling.

"Several people on the boardwalk witnessed a kayaker whose kayak tipped over," said Lt. Cmdr. Karen Damon, with the U.S. Coast Guard. "The kayaker was in the water. He was looking like he was struggling."

Riddle swam about 100 yards offshore but was unable to make it back to shore, according to authorities.

Officials said another good Samaritan jumped in the water to help the kayaker. Both the kayaker and the other person made it to safety. Riddle did not.

Who is Riddle?

Riddle is from Deer Park and is a maintenance worker for the Kemah Boardwalk.

Authorities said Riddle is related to a Kemah Police Department officer.

Riddle was a strong swimmer who was raised in Deer Park. He competed on the Deer Park High School swim team before serving in the Navy.

Riddle's father, former Deer Park Mayor Wayne Riddle, said he was surprised his son wasn't able to swim back to shore but wasn't surprised he jumped in the water to help the kayaker.

"He'd do anything in the world for anybody," Riddle said. "If that had been a stray dog or cat, he would have tried to save them. I'm just so proud of him. I just appreciate his willingness to try to help somebody."

The search

Several law enforcement agencies coordinated efforts to find Riddle.

Officials said the water conditions were "tough" near the dock at the time Riddle entered the water.

Drones and helicopters were used in the search. U.S. Coast Guard officials said the drones had infrared capabilities.

Part of the Kemah Boardwalk was closed while the search took place.

Funeral arrangements

Riddle's family said his funeral will be held Sept. 12 at Deer Park First Baptist Church. Visitation is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. with a funeral set to start at 11 a.m.

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