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Methuen man drowns trying to save his child from rip current at Salisbury Beach

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A Methuen man who tried to rescue his child from a rip current at Salisbury Beach on Wednesday has died, officials said.

Gary M. Simard, 44, was spending the afternoon with his four children when one of them was caught in the current and pulled away from shore, Essex District Attorney Paul F. Tucker’s office said Thursday.

Simard, 44, and two other bystanders rushed into the water. The bystanders were able to rescue the child and return to shore, but they could not find Simard, officials said.

Emergency responders found Simard unresponsive in the water about 75 yards offshore. They brought him back to shore within a few minutes and began performing “advanced life support medical care” before he was taken to a local hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, officials said.


A second swimmer was also taken to a hospital for treatment of exhaustion.

A GoFundMe campaign organized by Simard’s sibling said Simard “lived his whole life for his family,” his partner Alexis, and their four children, ages 6 to 13.

“Gary truly was a hero who not only dedicated his life to his children but literally gave his life for them,” the posting reads. “We are raising money to help offset the cost of funeral expenses as well as the needs of Gary’s four young children. Gary was the sole provider for the family.”

The fundraiser had collected around more than $16,000 toward its $20,000 goal from more than 200 donors by Thursday evening.

Hurricane Nigel has created high surf conditions and dangerous rip currents along the Massachusetts coast, according to the National Weather Service. Riptides were expected at southeastern-facing beaches in Massachusetts until 7 p.m. Thursday.

“Rip currents can sweep even the best swimmers away from shore into deeper water,” forecasters said.


John R. Ellement can be reached at Follow him @JREbosglobe.