St Mary native Kristoff Murray tried to save a man and child from drowning in Florida on June 12. All three died.
St Mary native drowns trying to save man, baby in Florida

HIGHGATE, St Mary — While his death came as a shock, family and friends of 27-year-old Kristoff Murray were not surprised to learn that he died while trying to save others. The young father got into difficulty in Florida on June 12 while trying to save a man and his son from drowning. All three died.

Murray's natural instinct to help saw him leaping into the water, shoes still on his feet and a friend still on the cellphone he gripped in one hand.

“Kristoff had always been brave, maybe a little too brave with never calculating risks,” his sister Patreece Murray told the Jamaica Observer. “There was this time [when we were children that] I pushed my older sister Anika in a 10-foot deep pool and he didn't hesitate to go get her though he was shorter than her.”

His eagerness to help continued into adulthood, she said, and he came to her rescue one night after a taxi trip home ended unexpectedly. The car in which he arrived did not have very good headlights and they were guided home by the light of a cellphone pushed through a window, said his sibling.

“He was adventurous and cool,” she added proudly, and never one to waste time capturing video of an incident when he could be helping. Though his rescue attempt ended badly, she is hoping it will inspire others to help those in need.

“If you are able to help, help because you never know when it's your turn. Views and likes [on social media] don't matter, especially in life and death [situations]. That's the lesson from my brother,” she said.

Murray is a former student of the St Mary High School, but he has lived in the US since 2018.

He was dubbed the 'Apollo Beach hero' after news broke of his valiant attempt to save the lives of two people he had never met before.

“Your husband, your brother – his actions were nothing less than heroic,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said to family members in a June 14 press conference in which it was announced that Kristoff's body had been found. The family had held out hope that he would be found alive as a search was done by air and sea. “He risked and ultimately gave his life for two strangers that were in need,” said Chronister. The father and son who also perished were identified as 37-year-old Janosh Purackal and his three-year-old son Daniel.

Murray's friend Andre “Naza” Walsh was struck by the irony of all the media coverage. In life, Murray had shunned such attention.

“The spotlight was not for him… [he was] very low-key,” he said.

Walsh also spoke of his friend's unwillingness to accept failure, his skills as an amateur musician and footballer, how he taught himself to be a mechanic, his love for cars, and his ability to cook the best brown stew chicken. Murray, he added, became an even better man after he became a father. He had two children and on Sunday, the first Father's Day without him in their lives, his mother Pollyanna Haber paused, yet again, to remember her son.

“He loved his family. Father's Day was [usually] spent with them. He was a loving son, supportive brother and dedicated family man,” she said.

BY DAVIA ELLIS Observer writer

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