Man dies trying to rescue girl from swift water in Trinity River




Posted on July 5, 2010 at 4:50 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 6 at 5:09 PM

Trinity River rescue

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FORT WORTH — A Winnsboro man drowned Monday afternoon after leaping into the Trinity River to try and rescue a child.

Richard Walker  and his wife Sandra both went in after the seven-year-old girl — one of two the couple were trying to adopt — fell into the river on the shore of Trinity Park.

Jeff Harrison, who was finishing up a 37-mile bicycle ride, acted swiftly as soon as he realized what was happening.

"I jumped out there. They were right in the middle of it," he said. "By that time, the mom was totally under the water. The little girl was actually kind of holding her up. So I just took my stuff  off and jumped in and pulled them out."

The girl appeared to be OK, but Sandra Walker was initially not breathing.

The bicyclist, who has no formal rescue training, attempted to revive the woman. "I did CPR like they did on TV," Harrison said. 

The woman regained a pulse just before an ambulance arrived and she was rushed to Texas Health Fort Worth Hospital.

One witness said Sandra Walker was heard to say, "Save the little girl!" as she was being carried away.

The Fort Worth Fire Department used boats and a helicopter in the search for Richard Walker, 47. His body was recovered after more than 30 minutes underwater.

"It's devastating. I feel terrible," Harrison said. "I didn't even want to see the guy getting pulled out."

The seven-year-old girl and her eight-year-old brother were placed in the care of Child Protective Services. It was unclear how far along the Walkers were in the adoption process.