Helena man dies while saving family from rip current

Published 5:48 pm Monday, June 19, 2023

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By NOAH WORTHAM | Staff Writer

HELENA – A local family is devastated after the tragic loss of a Helena father who died as a hero saving his family from a rip current at Panama City Beach.

Christopher Pierce, 47, Helena, tragically died on June 18 while saving his daughter and wife during a rip current in the Gulf of Mexico.

Elise Pierce, Christopher’s wife, came to Facebook to share the news with friends and family.

“My husband, the love of my life, and Taylor’s father, Christopher Pierce, died today,” read a Facebook post by Elise.

Christopher also leaves behind two sons, Christian and Matt Pierce.

According to Panama City Beach Police, Christopher was in the Gulf of Mexico to rescue his daughter, Taylor, from a rip current. Pierce saved her but was overcome by the strong currents.

First responders attempted to rescue and revive Pierce, but he was pronounced dead at the hospital.

“He died a hero, first saving our daughter and then trying to save me from drowning in rough waters at the beach,” Elise said. “He drowned doing it. He gave his life for us.”

According to Panama City Beach officials, the weather conditions at the time were severe with single red flags warning of extreme water hazards.

“Our world is shattered,” Elise said. “He dotes on us, adored us—always calling us his girls. We had so many plans as a family and as a couple and had just been talking about how he and I would celebrate our wedding anniversary.”

Elise shared that herself and Taylor have been comforted by friends since the tragic event.

“We all lost a great man today, and I lost my best friend, my soul mate, my forever,” she said. “He is the best human I’ve ever known—he kept me balanced, he was my rock, he coached and he was my cheerleader.”