Loved ones remember father who died rescuing son, girlfriend’s daughter caught in rip current

Two families are remembering a man who lost his life while trying to save others. (Source: WECT)
Published: Jun. 29, 2023 at 4:08 PM CDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT/Gray News) - Two families say their lives changed in just minutes after a trip to the beach turned deadly.

WECT reports the Shackelford and Corral families were enjoying their beach day until two of their kids got caught in a rip current.

Jon Shackelford jumped into the ocean and helped rescue his girlfriend’s 14-year-old daughter and his 7-year-old son.

But he didn’t make it out alive.

His girlfriend, Marcie Corral, was at a nearby restaurant while Shackelford and the kids were on the beach with some friends.

“I waited for like 20 minutes, I finally walked around there, and that’s when my daughter was coming to me, out of breath, sobbing, saying something happened to Jon. And I just walked over and looked at people doing chest compressions on him,” Corral said.

She remembers the last moments before Shackelford lost his life.

“I went and grabbed his hand but I knew he was already gone,” Corral said. “I begged him to stay and then I literally remember I started screaming. The next thing I know, I’m in an ambulance and blacked out everything.”

Corral said Shackelford worked as a volunteer firefighter and always put others first.

Shackelford’s father, Billy Shackelford, said it’s no surprise that his son fought until his last breath to save someone else.

Billy Shackelford said he feels like he’s lost a huge part of his life.

“I love him so much. I miss him. The Lord knows what he’s doing. He took him for a reason,” Billy Shackelford said.

The families said they want to keep Jon Shackelford’s legacy alive while reminding others about how powerful rip currents can be along the coast.

“He was just an amazing person. I really want people to know that,” Corral said. “We were perfect for each other. I miss him because he was my person.”