Kelly Clarke, a Texas youth pastor, died Christmas Day after giving his life to save a fellow pastor and that pastor’s son from drowning, according to KXAN-TV.
What are the details?
Clarke, who had moved to Costa Rica with his family as a missionary seven months before his death, went swimming in the ocean on Christmas with a fellow pastor — Pastor Manuel — and their families.
While swimming, one of Manuel’s sons was caught up in a riptide. Manuel jumped into action and attempted to save the boy’s life, but ended up being caught in the same riptide that overwhelmed his son.
Clarke ended up saving Manuel and his son, but sacrificed his own life to secure their safety.
Just a night before the accident, a Facebook post purported to belong to Clarke spoke of celebrating the holiday with Manuel and his family.
“First Christmas Eve in Costa Rica and first one ever away from my mom and family,” Clarke purportedly wrote. “It was good but different. Miss you mom! Spent the night celebrating with Pastor Manuel and the family.”
What have those close said about Clarke?
Hannah Bower, a close family friend, told KXAN that Clarke knew exactly what he was getting himself into.
“He would have had to know what he was getting himself into when he went into the water because if it was sweeping other people under and he saw them struggling, you know, he would have known it would have been a struggle going in there, but he still went after those people,” Bower said.
Clarke’s sister, Tammy Beard, said that her brother’s actions were typical for his character.
“That was my brother, I mean he would give his life if that meant saving another,” Beard said. “He loved the Lord and wanted to be the hands and feet of Jesus.”
Clarke’s brother-in-law published a GoFundMe page in the days after the accident in an attempt to raise money to bring Clarke home to Tyler, Texas, for burial. At the time of this writing, the page had received more than $17,000.