Malik Williams, 25, from Illinois in the US was fishing with his six-year-old son Jaden on the Mississippi River on Tuesday when a tragic accident saw the father-of-two drown and his body disappear.
A photograph taken by a bystander – 16-year-old Riley Gomez – shows the pair only moments before Williams’ death. The image has gone viral because of its almost prophetic timing.
“When I was going home, I turned around to see the sunset one last time and the little boy wasn’t on the dock anymore,” Gomez told Inside Edition. “Then I saw his father jump in.”
The six-year-old had accidentally fallen off the jetty and was struggling to stay afloat. Almost automatically his father jumped in after him, even though Williams could not swim either.
“Malik’s first instinct was to save his baby,” a GoFundMe page for the grieving family reads. “He was trying to do everything he could to save Jaden.”
Williams’ fiance Heather – his partner since high school – was also there. She began screaming.
“She was yelling, ‘Help me, help me! They can’t swim! They can’t swim!'” Gomez said.
The 16-year-old photographer, with the help of another bystander, jumped into the water to assist.
The pair got the young boy to safety but the currents took Williams under and out of reach.
"I tried everything... I keep having dreams that I actually did save [Williams]," Gomez said. "It still seems unreal to me."
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Williams and his fiance welcomed their second child into the world only two weeks ago, a son Joziah.
The 25-year-old has been described as an "amazing father" and a "hero" for sacrificing himself, so Jaden might live.
"He’ll always be remembered as a hero," Gomez said. "Knowing that there was one last thing I was able to give to that family, I’m really glad I did take that picture."
The search for Williams' body has been suspended.