Last week, Tropical Storm Barry unleashed its fury across much of the United States. With damage still being assessed in several areas, many are struggling to cope with their losses while still reeling from the shock of how suddenly everything happened. This is especially true for one Tennessee family who was vacationing near Panama City, Florida.
Julie and Fred Pepperman were taking in a day at the beach, just as the did almost 32 years ago on their honeymoon. However, on July 14th, their daughters, along with extended family, joined them in the sand to enjoy a little fun in the sun. Although many in attendance were aware of the major storm in the area, Julie says the “water was fine,” so the family went on with their activities. Suddenly, the family noticed one of their daughters, 16-year-old Olivia, had ventured out too far.
Julie later told 10News that ”you could just see something was wrong.” So her husband, Fred, along with two of their other daughters, Grace and Kathryn, dove in the water and began swimming out into the now choppy water. The 53-year-old father of four used every bit of strength pulling his daughters to the surface and pushing them back towards the coastline. Julie says at one point all 6 members of their family, along with several good samaritans, had jumped in the ensure Olivia made it back to shore. Fred, however, was still out in the water and had been taken under himself. Three strangers pulled the brave dad ashore, immediately administering CPR, but to no avail.
Fred Pepperman passed away in possibly one of the most tragic but fitting ways for a father to give his life. “Without him, three of mine definitely would be gone,” Julie said. “It doesn’t seem real.”
Julie shared a post on Facebook detailing the ordeal, saying of Fred “He was amazing, selfless, tireless, and committed to making sure we were all out of the water. Once we were safe, he was simply too exhausted to worry about himself. His body was worn out.”
After thanking everyone involved for their help and prayers, Julie thanked her partner, husband, and friend. “You did good, Freddie. Our girls are safe. You saved your family. You are a good man, through and through.”
A few days later, Julie posted Fred’s Obituary – a testament to the many lives he touched and those who will hopefully carry on his legacy of helping others for generations to come.
“I just want people to know a lot of dads say they would do it, and he did it, so that’s a dad,” Julie added.
We absolutely agree.