METHUEN, Mass. — A beach day took a tragic turn for a Massachusetts family when a father of four lost his life trying to save his eldest son from a powerful rip current near the New Hampshire border. Gary Simard, a 44-year-old finance manager from Methuen, was at Salisbury Beach with his family when the incident occurred.
Rip currents, often mistakenly referred to as riptides, are powerful, narrow channels of fast-moving water that can pull swimmers away from the shore. They are common along the U.S. coasts, and according to the United States Lifesaving Association, rip currents account for over 80% of rescues performed by surf beach lifeguards.
On the fateful Wednesday, Simard’s 13-year-old son, Gary, was caught in a rip current. Simard, along with two bystanders, rushed into the water to save the boy. While they were successful in rescuing the child, Simard was swept away by the strong current and could not be located immediately.
Witnesses reported that Simard was pulled at least 100 yards away from the beach. By the time Salisbury police and fire crews arrived at the scene, Simard had been in the water for approximately 20 minutes. He was transported to the emergency room in neighboring Seabrook, New Hampshire, but was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.
Salisbury Fire Chief Scott Carrigan praised the efforts of the bystanders who assisted in the rescue. He stated that their quick actions prevented the situation from becoming even more tragic.
Simard leaves behind his four children — Gary, 13, Matthew, 11, Olivia, 8, and A.J., 6 — and his partner, Alexis Wronski. Wronski described Simard as the family’s rock and expressed disbelief at his sudden loss. A GoFundMe page has been set up to support the family during this difficult time.
This tragic incident underscores the dangers of rip currents and the importance of water safety. Simard’s heroic act to save his son will be remembered by his family and the Methuen community.