News 12 at 11 o'clock/ Monday, August 12th, 2013
HEPHZIBAH, Ga. (WRDW) -- A Hephzibah family is mourning the loss of their son after he died saving three friends.
26 year old father Jamarcus Bell was swept into the ocean Saturday in Panama City, Florida.
Around 6:30 Saturday night Jamarcus was at the beach with a group of friends when three of them started to struggle
"If it was something that he could do, he was gonna do it," said his sister Raven Bell.
Jamarcus immediately raced for the water saving two girls and his best friend before being swept away.
"They say he pushed him to shore and that's when the current came and took him down," explained his mother Marie Merriweather.
A search began quickly with a helicopter and search and rescue team working through the night.
"[The officer] said in most cases, 9 out of 10 times when they drown they go to the bottom and he said it may take 3 or 4 days to resurface," said Bell.
That was a thought that left Raven Bell and her mother in tears.
"I didn't want him just floating out there for three or four days at the bottom and you're waiting for him to come back up to the top. I didn't want that," said Bell.
"I told the officer just find my baby, get him out of that water. Just find my baby," added Merriweather.
That's what they did. After a 15 hour search, his body was found just 150 yards off shore.
"I was relieved," said Bell.
Monday his 5 year old daughter played in the yard as his mother began to deal with the loss of a child. It is a pain she says she never thought she'd feel.
"We always figured we would die before my children," said Merriweather. "Now I know that hurt but I know God is gonna see us through."
His family says he was a strong christian and even had the group say a prayer before they got in the water the first day. It gives them a little comfort to know that he's in a better place.
He leaves behind a one year old son and a five year old daughter. His five year old daughter was supposed to start kindergarten Monday.