‘Your Son Died Saving My Little Girl:’ Young Man Dies in Tragic Drowning Rescue

Eva Fu
By Eva Fu
June 3, 2019US News
‘Your Son Died Saving My Little Girl:’ Young Man Dies in Tragic Drowning Rescue
A makeshift floral tribute at the site where two young boys drowned. (Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

A relaxing day at the lake turned into tragedy in British Columbia on May 31 when a 10-year-old girl got a step too close to the water.

“She was on the floaty and it pulled her out too far,” Kiel Jordan, the stepfather of the girl Payton, told Global News. The family was enjoying a weekend trip at the Windermere Lake in Calgary at the time.

Payton tried to paddle back before deciding to use her arms. She jumped off the swim float and swam.

But she had been a bit too far out.

Feeling her strength slipping away, Payton started calling out for help.

“Her head started bobbing underneath the water,” Jordan told The Columbia Valley Pioneer.

‘He Kept Her Above’

Jon Palmiere, a 20-year-old recent high school graduate and the boyfriend of Payton’s sister, immediately jumped into the lake after hearing the girl’s cry.

“He wasn’t a strong swimmer at all, but he just went for it,” Jordan said.

Palmiere managed to get Payton within reach of people on the beach before he gave in and sunk under water.

“His head started going under trying to keep her up and then he slipped under the water,” Jordan added.

“His last go was to grab her feet, somehow threw her up out of the water towards the beach, which got her within arm’s reach of other people.

“Physically she’s fine. He kept her above.”

It was his last deed of kindness. Despite attempts to revive him with chest compressions, Palmiere died at the hospital. Payton, who he had just met and rescued, was safe and met with medical counselors to cope with the emotional shock.

Looking After Others

Jordan and Palmiere’s family alike remembered Palmiere as being charismatic, well-mannered, and caring.

“His personality is as big as a mountain … Just a beaming smile and so upbeat and always helpful,” Jordan told Global News.

His mother, Toni Palmiere, told The Columbia Valley Pioneer, “I told him to take care of himself for a change. I said, ‘You always look after other people.’

“My step-daughter has a brand-new baby, and he (Jon) just steps up and mans up and helps out even though the child isn’t his. He’s just that human, he’s always the guy that’s going to help you.”

At the hospital, Jordan and Palmiere’s mother had an emotional meeting.

“I went up to give him a hug and he said, ‘I’m so sorry. Your son died saving my little girl.’ Then he just fell to the floor and collapsed,” Toni told Global News.

But Toni Palmiere said that he need not apologize because that was just how her son is.

“Jon did what Jon does,” the mother said.

“Jon would do it all again in a heartbeat even though what happened. He’s just that person. He’s a hero,” Palmiere’s brother, David Palmiere, said.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowning kills around 4,000 people in the United States every year, making it the second leading cause death of unintentional injury, following motor vehicle accidents.

Children under five-years-old and young adults between 14- and 24-years-old are most at risk of drowning, according to the agency.

The CDC recommends adults to always keep children under close supervision when around water and to wear appropriate gear, such as fitted life jackets as drowning can happen as quickly as the few seconds when a child is left alone.

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