ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (WKRG) — Like many families on their first trip to Orange Beach, the Walker family from Baton Rouge, Louisiana had just checked into their hotel and headed to the beach late Saturday afternoon.
“Everybody wanted to go out there and have some fun,” says Clint Walker.
14-year-old Tyreke Walker hit the beach and headed into the water. His mom says he was less than five feet from shore. His dad saw his son being pulled farther and farther out and knew he was in trouble.
“I made it to him and grabbed him,” he says. “I tried to pull us towards the beach but the waves kept pulling us back, hitting us from the back and knocking us underwater. I held onto him for a while but eventually, I lost grip.”
That would be the last time he saw his son.
“I got swept underwater a couple times. I kept fighting back up, taking breaths and I’d get swept down again. I don’t know what he was going through, probably the same.”
Tyreke had just turned 14 and graduated from the 8th grade.
“He surpassed what we always thought of him because he is always kind of laid back in his schoolwork,” says Tammy Nguyen, Tyreke’s mother. “He told us this year he was going to make us proud and he did. He made honor roll several times this year.”
Heavy surf and bad weather hampered recovery efforts Monday. A state helicopter was able to get an aerial view of the shoreline during a late afternoon break in the rain. Double red flags posted just an hour before the swimmer in distress call issued Saturday are still up. The double red flags mean the water is closed to swimmers.
Meanwhile, the Walker family remains in Orange Beach, “I don’t want to go home without him, I don’t,” cries his mother. They will wait until they are able to take their son home.