Maryville Family reflects after tragic drowning

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A devoted husband, father of four daughters, described as a selfless man who loved laughing and making jokes.

All the ways family and friends described Frederick J. Pepperman III, 53, a Maryville man who drowned on Sunday, July 14 at a Walton County, Fla. beach after saving his family from a riptide.

His sister-in-law Colette James said “Freddy”, loved his wife of 28 years and four daughters with his entire heart.

“He loved his children more than life itself, he loved my sister, the catch of the day, his jewel. He would want no other way to lay down his own life to protect them and save them,” said James.

He was one of two deaths that day in area beaches.

Walton County Sheriff’s Office telling WATE 6 On Your Side there were a total of 15 water rescues that day.

The beach had the double-red flags flying that day due to water safety concerns. The local beach safety director telling local news outlets that double red flags mean the water is closed to the public.

Now, James hopes their family’s story will inspire and educate others on warning signs and flag colors on all beaches, including private areas without full-time lifeguards.

“My brother died a hero. he loved his children more than life itself, he loved my sister, the catch of the day. his jewel. he would want no other way to lay down his own life to protect them and save them,” said James.

The family started a GoFundMe fundraiser as a “tribute to a great man”, according to the description, but also, to help his four daughters pay for school and college.

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