Gabriel Lucas Gardner, deceased

A father drowned June 26, 2020, saving his toddler daughter from the same fate. Kinzlee R. Gardner, 21 months, was wearing a life jacket in a kayak with her mother, about 10 feet from the bank of the Spokane River near Post Falls, Idaho, when an undertow upset the kayak, dumping Kinzlee and her mother into the water. Kinzlee’s mother pushed Kinzlee to the water’s surface, before the current submerged her and carried her away from the bank. It was like being sucked down a drain, the mother told the Hero Fund’s investigator. Kinzlee’s father, Gabriel Lucas Gardner, a 35-year-old laborer of Spokane Valley, Washington, immediately entered the 60-degree water and swam to the toddler. Grabbing her life jacket, he first attempted to hand her off to another man who had entered the water with him, but, struggling in the water, the man was returning to the bank. Gardner then swam 70 feet to another kayak piloted by Kinzlee’s 12-year-old brother, who took Kinzlee into his kayak. Gardner submerged and did not resurface. His body was found more than an hour later about 900 feet downriver.