Mark Darrough lost his life while trying to save a teenage girl's.
The Modesto security guard drowned Sunday while swimming to rescue a 13-year-old girl who had been swept away by strong currents at Carmel River State Beach, the Monterey County Sheriff's Department said.
Darrough's death wasn't the only pain the incident caused his family.
His 23-year-old daughter, Jessica, remains on life support at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. She dived into the ocean to chase the girl, too.
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They visited the beach as part of a Sunday outing with the Ceres Seventh-day Adventist Church's Pathfinder Club. Three others in their group required medical care because of their attempts to save the teen, a church spokeswoman said.
Darrough, 47, "was willing to help and he drowned because he was trying to save someone," said his father-in-law, Emmett Bush of Modesto.
The string of events that claimed Darrough's life unfolded when the church group chose to make a stop at Monastery Beach, part of Carmel River State Beach, so the children could play in the sand, said Bert Van Tassell, who went on the trip with his granddaughter.
Members of the group were questioning whether it was safe to be there when waves pulled the teenager into the bay.
Van Tassell and several others from the church leapt into the ocean, only to find rough waves and treacherous sand.
"One second you are on the sand and the next, the ground is out from under you," said Van Tassell, 57.
"We didn't understand. (When we got to the beach) I could tell there was undertow. We weren't going to go into the water, we were just going to stay on the sand. But we didn't understand the risk," he said.
Noe Gomez of Seaside pulled the 13-year-old girl to safety.
Church members Kara Claridge, Hector Gomez and Linda Haley, who also dived into the ocean, quickly returned to shore. They were treated at the hospital, church spokeswoman Caron Oswald and Pastor Keith Mulligan said.
Lifeguards pulled the Darroughs out of the ocean. Mark Darrough was in the water for at least 37 minutes, said Dana Jones, sector superintendent for California State Parks.
"This is a really dangerous beach, and we let people know that it is really steep," Jones said. "It drops into the water very quickly. And the surf was really big yesterday."
Mulligan stayed with Darrough's family at the Monterey hospital, awaiting news about Jessica.
"Hopefully, the mind and heart will begin working again, but we have no idea what the prognosis is," Mulligan said. "It is in the Lord's hands, and there are a lot of people praying. It all happened within a couple of minutes."
Mark Darrough "was a really unassuming person," Mulligan said. "A nice personality. He was a quiet person -- very dependable."
Bush said he met Mark Darrough about 25 years ago, when Bush's daughter, Sheri, brought Darrough home from college in Michigan.
"My daughter brought him out here for him to ask me if he could marry her," Bush remembered. "I figured if she brought him out, he was a good man."
The Darroughs lived on the same street as Sheri's parents, just south of Hatch Road.
"He was one of the most gentle men I ever saw," Bush said. "I never, ever heard that man say anything bad or derogatory about anyone."
Jessica Darrough graduated from Downey High School in 2004. She is known for her love of animals and for working at a pet grooming service, Van Tassell said.
Central Valley Christian Academy in Ceres, which is on spring break, will have counselors on hand Wednesday to talk with students, some of whom are members of the Pathfinder Club and the church, Mulligan said.
"We're all pretty shaken up right now," he said. "It is just so incredible to me how much people are reaching out to each other and helping each other."