As soon as she heard the commotion the woman looked at the lake. She noticed the two people in the water trying to get back onto the float. “It’s going to be ok. He’s a great swimmer,” she said to her self, as her heart began to beat faster. As the seconds that felt like hours began to pass, she knew something was very wrong. She called out for help, but the thought it was too late.
When she was getting ready for a day at the lake, Angelica Herrera never imagined how the day would go. Angelica and her fiance, Brandyn Mitchell, wanted to spend a nice day at the lake enjoying the warm weather. Fortunately for them, they lived near Ray Roberts Lake State Park, a recreational are where people can boat, fish, and swim. They headed out that day with their kids and other members of their family. Considering they had something to celebrate, the lake was a great place to spend the day.
Angelica and Brandyn had set a date for their wedding! “We were to be married next year. It was a surprise to our family we had not yet revealed,” explained Angelica. Even though they weren’t married yet, they lived together as a family with Angelica’s daughter, Keira, Brandyn’s kids, Paris and Trenton, and the couple’s one-year-old son, Bryson. Brandyn was especially close to his step-daughter, Keira.
Brandyn made it his duty to develop a strong bond with Angelica’s 6-year-old daughter, Keira. He made it a point to spend time with every day after work. He was also the coach of her neighborhood basketball team. Brandyn and Angelica had only been together of a couple of years, but Keira already looked at Brandyn like a father. So it was no surprise that Keira wanted to go swimming with Brandyn that day at the lake.
The family had planned a whole day of picnicking and games on Saturday, May 19th. But Keira wanted to go into the water, instead. She hadn’t learned to swim yet, but that didn’t matter. The family brought a huge floating device with them, so Brandyn and Keira went into the lake, while Angelica stayed with the rest of the family on the shore. Considering Brandyn’s background, Angelica knew Keira was in good hands.
Even though Brandyn was only 25 years old, he was a veteran of the armed forces. As soon as he graduated from high school, Brandyn enlistd in the Tennessee Army National Guard. He served for six years before he retired and moved to Texas, where he’s now preparing to go to college to become a firefighter. “He wanted to be a firefighter because he wanted to save lives. Running in when everyone is running out,” Angelia said. No one knew that Brandyn would soon put those instincts to good use.
Keira and Brandyn were in the middle of the lake having a great time splashing around. Keira suddenly lost her balance and fell in the water. Brandyn tried to help her back onto the boat, but she kept sliding off. So he decided to jump in and push her back onto the float. But it wasn’t as easy as he thought it would be.
Since Keira was a little girl, she began to panic and flail around. Brandyn began trying harder, but he began to get tired. Finally, Keira was able to get onto the float, so Brandyn told her to hang on not let go. It was time for Brandyn to get onto the float. He pushed himself up, but he was so tired that he slipped.
Angelica was watching the scene from the beach, assuming that Brandyn was in control. She began to fear for the worst when Brandyn didn’t resurface. Along with her family members, Angelica rushed into the water to get Keira, who was all alone and drifting on the float. Brandyn couldn’t be found anywhere.
The family called for emergency services and it wasn’t long before the Lewisville Fire Department sent a rescue dive team to the lake. Approximately three hours later, Brandyn’s body was found. The family couldn’t believe what happened. “Being in the Army and all that, he could swim like a fish. That’s why I can’t understand what happened,” said his mother to reporters while she was on her way to Texas from Arkansas. It goes without saying that Brandyn died a hero.
“He was an amazing father. He was loved and will be missed. No matter what, he was a hero,” said Angelica. Everyone who knew Brandyn said he was as brave as they could come. But he’ll be remembered for more than his final heroic sacrifice.
Brandyn was known as being a high-spirited guy that had no problem making friends wherever he went and could make anyone laugh. “When he was around you everybody had a good time. He very seldom got mad. Things you think would make somebody upset he’d just brush off like, ‘Whatever,'” said his mother. Now his family needed to pick up the pieces of their broken hearts.
Angelica is now having to deal with the fact that they won’t be able to do all of the things they had planned. “His dream was to travel around the world. We often dreamed of a honeymoon exploring Europe. He really just wanted to see the world through his own eyes, not just a picture,” explained Angelica. Unfortunately, all that’s left to do is mourn and honor him.
Two days after Brandyn passed, his friends and family gathered at Pilot Point to hold a candlelight vigil in his honor. “He had no problems shining as bright as he did. Shortly put, he was an amazing man and I am lucky to have known him,” said Angelica.