Michael Robidoux: Retired military pilot drowns saving two children along Florida beach

Posted at 5:33 AM, Mar 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-28 09:14:44-04

(WEAR/CNN) - A veteran military pilot in Florida died a hero while saving two children from drowning in the Panhandle.

Michael Robidoux and his wife Laura were visiting the beach around 6 p.m. Saturday when he saw the children were having trouble in the powerful waves.

Robidoux sacrificed his life to save both children. His wife said her husband never hesitated going into water to help.

Michael's family and neighbors were shocked and saddened by the news

"That is the way he lived his life serving others," said Dan Wood, a friend of the family.

They said they were not not surprised by his quick act to help.

"We lost a great military hero, a local hero and he wouldn't have it any other way. That was Mike, always giving to other people, and he gave the ultimate sacrifice for a child that he didn't know," said Wood.

Navarre Fire Chief Danny Fureigh said Robidoux got caught in an undertow in his attempt to help the children.

A Santa Rosa County, Fla., spokesperson said they currently have nine lifeguards, and are looking to hire six more.

Lifeguards like Riley Tilghman say more are needed to keep people safe.

"It is spread thin and not everybody is full-time," said Tilghman.

The county says tryouts were held earlier this month and they expect to hire more as soon as the applicants receive their certifications.

"It's definitely stressful, even simple tasks like going to the bathroom, it creates scenarios where we don't have as much coverage as we would like to have," said Tilghman.

Lifeguards say families should keep a watchful eye on kids during rough conditions in the Gulf of Mexico.

Michael's wife says he was an Eagle Scout, retired military pilot and 23-year veteran in the Air Force. Most recently, he was a pilot for Delta Airlines.

His neighbors say he paid the ultimate sacrifice for coming to the aid of others.

"He died like he lived, serving people, and he saved a life. He gave his life to save someone else," said Wood.

The two children rescued are safe after they were rescued by a man many are calling a hero.

Courtesy WEAR via CNN Newsource