Man drowns trying to save girl he was adopting

By Courtney Lane - bio | email

WINNSBORO, TX (KLTV) - What was supposed to a chance to grow as a family quickly turned into the unimaginable. An East Texas man drowned trying to save a little girl he would soon call "daughter."

It was supposed to be a fun day at the park, the final visit Richard and Sandra Walker had with the children they were bringing into their family. But in an instant that dream was shattered. The little girl slipped and fell into the Trinity River in Forth Worth on Monday. The Walkers jumped in after her.

Riding by on his bicycle, Jeff Harrison saw the three struggling in the water. The good Samaritan pulled the girl out and brought Sandra back to life.

"The mom she was blue," said Harrison. "She was totally under so I just did CPR like you see on TV I mean I had no idea. I had never done CPR in my life."

"When she was brought up, she said 'Save the little girl," said one of the rescuers, "'Is the little girl ok?'"

But no one could save Richard in time.

"It's devastating," said Harrison, "I mean I feel terrible. I didn't even want to see the guy getting pulled out."

The little girl clung to her brother. Witnesses say she was begging rescuers to "save her daddy" already an emotional attachment to the Walkers.

"Definitely children begin to develop a bond with their prospective adoptive families, which is what we want," said Marissa Gonzales with Texas Department of Family and Protective Serves.  "We want to make sure that in this case, it's very sad, but we hope to be able to provide these children with whatever emotional help we can give them."

Neighbors say the Walker's have another adopted son who was looking forward to getting a brother and sister.

"He's cute," said neighbor Heather Spruiell. "He's very outgoing; they adopted him about a year ago."

We also learned Richard was a long-time employee at Keller's Creamery in Winnsboro. Co-workers said it's too soon to talk on camera but they sent a statement saying: "Richard was a deeply devoted husband and co-worker... A truly special individual, who will be missed."

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services said the brother and sister are staying with a foster family who have been caring for them for a while.

Sandra is still hospitalized in Fort Worth.

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