Two men drowned in a New Jersey creek on Sunday while trying to save their friend who was pulled out by a fast-moving current, authorities say.
Mark Gorski, 56, and Zaidius Perry, a 36-year-old father of four, jumped into Thornes Creek in Hazlet around 2:40 p.m. when they heard their friend yelling for help in the water, WABC reported. The two men drowned and their friend was later found in distress near the water’s edge, according to the station. Officers entered the water and were able to bring him to safety, and he was transported to a local hospital.
“He was a hero, he will always be a hero,” Perry’s sister, Ziyadah Perry, told WABC. “And he will always be in our hearts. I know he’s in a better place, but it hurts.”
A fourth man, Sean Stead, called the police, according to the Asbury Park Press. Officials with the Hazlet Township Police Department revealed the incident in a statement, noting that the two victims “were not visible in the water when officers arrived.”
Gorski, Zaidius, and the two others were fishing in the area that day, according APP. Police told the site that 61-year-old Ronald Williams decided to go for a swim and was pulled out by the current.
Stead also entered the water to help Gorski and Perry, according to the APP, but wasn’t able to navigate the waters. Stead made it to where the men was and found Perry in a panic, Hazlet police Det. Michael Tristao told Holmdel Patch. He said Perry pulled Gorski under the water in a panic and began pulling Stead under too.
“He realized he was going to die. Sean pushed Perry off him and was able to swim back,” Tristao said. “He said he turned around to see both of them go underwater and that’s when he lost sight of them for good. He called 911 from shore. [Stead] was absolutely distraught when police got there. He kept repeating that Mark [Gorski] was a hero.”
Gorski and Perry were pronounced dead at the scene, according to WABC. Perry’s father, Stanley Qawiy, said he’d expect such a brave act from his son.
“He would do that,” the grieving father said. “He would jump in the water to try to help someone.”
Rescue teams searched the water and later found their bodies. More than a dozen teams responded to the incident. And officials with the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office sent their condolences to the victims’ families in a Facebook statement, calling the incident “tragic.”
Social media users remembered and praised Gorski on Facebook, with one person writing: “You will be missed by all of us. You died a hero.“
Another wrote: “Mark Gorski, you did what so many others would not, you selfishly reacted not because a life needed to be saved, but because you thought it was the right thing to do. I do not know you, sir, I wish I had though. I love meeting real life heroes.”
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