A Kemah Boardwalk employee drowned after jumping in the waters of Galveston Bay to try and save a kayaker in distress.

The man was identified as 56-year-old Todd Riddle of Deer Park, a Boardwalk maintenance worker. His body was recovered Thursday morning.   

According to Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne, at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Riddle jumped into the waters of Galveston Bay from the Kemah Boardwalk to help a kayaker who had turned over approximately 100 yards offshore. 

Hawthorne said the kayaker as well as another citizen who also jumped in to help both made it back to shore safely.

“Unfortunately, Riddle did not,” Hawthorne said, adding the good Samaritan’s body was located at about 10 a.m. near the area where he was last seen.

The U.S Coast Guard also helped in the search for Riddle. 

“People on scene lost sight of the employee (after he jumped in the water) and notified authorities,” U.S. Coast Guard officials said in a released statement.

Hawthorne said Riddle jumped in from the Galveston County part of the Boardwalk in Kemah.

“But the minute he jumped in and swam out to where he did, it was Chambers County, so it is a Chambers County death,” Hawthorne said. “The water was really rough, so that must have been the problem the kayaker was dealing with.”

Riddle swam out pretty far before he disappeared in the water, Hawthorne said. 

“It was quite a swim, about as many as 150 yards out, and that is a long swim in rough water,” 

Hawthorne said. 

Chambers County Justice of the Peace Larry Cryer performed the inquest and has ordered an autopsy, Hawthorne said. 

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this most difficult time,” Hawthorne said. 

Kemah Police Chief Walter Gant expressed gratitude for those that pitched in to help find Riddle. 

“Thank you to the many agencies assisting in the all out search that went on into the night and into Thursday, September 5,” Gant said. “We truly appreciate the cooperation from the media during this difficult time.”

A GoFundMe site has been set up to help raise funds for Riddle’s funeral expenses. To visit the site, log on to https://www.gofundme.com/f/2wvku-funeral-expenses-for-hero-todd-riddle?pc=txt_m.

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