Man Identified Who Died While Rescuing Little Girl In Catawba River, DNR Says No Life Jackets Were Worn

TEGA CAY, S.C. — A man in Tega Cay died while rescuing a little girl from drowning.

And now two families are coping with the reality of what happened.

The Department of Natural Resources says late Sunday by Sand Island in Tega Cay, 41-year-old Shi Li Zheng was kayaking with his 10-year-old son.

He jumped out of his kayak to help a 9-year-old family member who was swimming nearby.

The dam was releasing water, so the current was strong. DNR says Zheng pulled the little girl to shore, but was then pulled under a current himself.

Several rescue teams were involved in recovering Zheng’s body. Tragically, the man and the little girl were not wearing life jackets.

“Life jackets are just extremely important anytime you’re around water, especially around swift currents,” Sgt. Jason Plemmons said with the department. “The little girl wouldn’ t have been in trouble if she had a life jacket, and he wouldn’t have lost his life if we had a life jacket on.”

Sgt. Jason Plemmons with the Department of Natural Resources says a warning is given when the dam starts releasing water.

Times of release are also published.

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