A Maryville man died Sunday after saving family members from drowning during double-red-flag conditions in the Gulf of Mexico in Walton County, Florida.
Facebook posts by Julie Meunier Pepperman from Monday and Tuesday say her husband, Fred Pepperman, died while saving three of his daughters and his wife.
“Once we were safe, he was simply too exhausted to worry about himself. His body was worn out,” Julie Pepperman said in her post.
Panhandle news reports state two people drowned at local beaches Sunday. The first happened around noon and involved a 53-year-old man thought to be Pepperman. Reporting from the Northwest Florida Daily News shows area Beach Safety Director David Vaughan reported the man received CPR but did not recover.
He was more than two miles from the nearest lifeguard, Vaughan told reporters.
Julie Pepperman is a Heritage Middle School science teacher and along with her family has been a resident in the area for years.
Fred Pepperman was the owner of Appalachian Fire Alarm Solutions LLC, a commercial life safety building system business out of Knoxville, its website shows.
Their daughter, Olivia, has received numerous recognitions for her achievements in basketball and volleyball at Maryville High School.
“Next Friday, the 26th would have been our 28th wedding anniversary,” Julie Pepperman wrote of her husband. “Our girls are safe. You saved your family. You are a good man, through and through. We love you and our hearts are breaking! Thank you to my sisters, my brothers-in-law, and my parents for all your help in the water and since we lost Fred.”
A visitation will be held at St. Francis of Assisi in Townsend from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m., the Pepperman family told The Daily Times. A celebration of Fred Pepperman's life will follow at 121 North Panosenic Drive in Maryville.
News reports from the weekend on Florida’s beaches say that waters were dangerous because of category 1 hurricane Barry which had weakened to a tropical depression.
Beaches everywhere on the Gulf coast warned visitors to stay out of the water, and the Northwest Florida Daily News reported the Walton County beach where Pepperman is thought to have drowned had been flagged to keep people out of the water.