Man drowns in Trinity; passing bicyclist rescues mom and daughter

FORT WORTH -- An East Texas man trying to rescue his 7-year-old daughter drowned Monday afternoon in the Trinity River, but a passing bicyclist pulled out the girl and her mother, who also was trying to save the girl, a Fire Department spokesman said.

Richard Walker, 47, of Winnsboro, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner's office. The names of other family members weren't released Monday.

The drowning occurred at a low-water dam between the Interstate 30 and West Lancaster Avenue bridges.

"My understanding is they were walking on the rocky crossing, and one of the children fell in and the adults swam in to get the child out," said Fort Worth Fire spokesman Tim Hardeman.

The bicyclist, Jeff Harrison, said he was on the 37th mile of a ride that had begun more than two hours earlier at his home in north Fort Worth. Harrison had turned around in Benbrook and was cycling back home through Trinity Park about 3:30 p.m. when he saw the girl floating with the current and an older woman and man swimming after her.

A teenage boy, Walker's son, was standing on the rocks and appeared frantic, Harrison said. The boy told him that he couldn't swim.

There were adult onlookers nearby, he said. "Everybody's just watching," Harrison said.

Harrison saw that the man was caught in a strong current and the mother and daughter had floated farther away. Harrison said he ran along the bank toward them, making eye contact with the girl. He could see the mother's body beneath the water's surface.

"The little girl was actually holding her mom up," Harrison said.

He jumped in and pulled them both out of the river. The girl appeared fine, he said, but the mother's body had turned blue.

"I did CPR," Harrison said. "Not that I've ever done CPR in my life. I just did it like you see on TV, just as hard as I could."

Soon, Harrison said, he could feel a pulse. Emergency workers then arrived and revived the woman.

She was listed in fair condition Tuesday at Texas Health Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Both the mother and daughter are expected to recover, Hardeman said.

Harrison said the satisfaction of saving the mother and daughter was tempered by sadness and frustration over the father's death.

Two hours after the accident, he was still stunned that no one else tried to help.

AMAN BATHEJA, 817-390-7695

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