Lives changed in minutes: Family remembers man who died rescuing son, girlfriend’s daughter off Pender Co. coast.
A family was enjoying a day at the beach when two kids got caught in a rip current.
Jon Shackelford went in to rescue his 7-year-old son, Lucas, and his girlfriend’s 14-year-old daughter. But he didn’t make it out alive.
Shackelford’s girlfriend, Marcie Corral, was at a nearby restaurant while he and the kids were on the beach with some friends.
“I waited for like 20 minutes, I finally walked around there and that’s when my daughter was coming to me, out of breath, sobbing, saying something happened to Jon. And I just walked over and looked at people doing chest compressions on him,” Corral said.
She is remembering the last moments before Shackelford lost his life.
“And I went and grabbed his hand. And I knew he was already gone. They were like pumping stuff out of him and I grabbed his cold hand, and I begged him to stay and then I literally like remember screaming. And the next thing I know I’m in an ambulance. Like I blacked out everything from there.”
Corral says as a former volunteer firefighter, Shackelford always put others first.
Shackleford’s dad, Billy, says it’s no surprise that his son fought ‘til his last breath to save someone. Now, Billy says he feels like he’s lost a huge part of his life.
“I love him so much. I miss him. The Lord knows what he’s doing. He took him for a reason,” Billy Shackelford said.
Billy also wants this to serve as a reminder to others about how powerful rip currents can be along the coast.
Corral says it should be an important warning for others who might be out in the waters, but for now, keeping Jon’s legacy alive is what’s most important to her.
“The key thing is, he was a person that was even more than the hero or the person who got caught up as a warning to other people. He was just an amazing person. And I really want that to be something that people see and know,” Corral said. ”He’s not a perfect person. I’m not a perfect person, but we were perfect for each other. I just miss him because he was my person.”