Robert C. Cooke, Jr., 47, realtor, died helping to save an unidentified youth, about 19, from drowning, Laguna Beach, Florida, June 29, 1957. While swimming in rough surf in the Gulf of Mexico, the youth got into difficulty and called for help as he struggled to remain afloat 250 feet from shore in water five feet deep between breakers three to five feet high. Cooke, who had done little swimming for 10 years, waded into the water wearing only shorts and swam 175-five feet to the youth, who was near exhaustion. Obtaining a hold on the youth, Cooke swam towing him 150 feet toward shore with difficulty because of a strong undercurrent. He then thrust the youth to a man who was an excellent swimmer and had waded into the surf. As the man aided the youth to the beach, Cooke drifted with the current into deeper water over a hole in the sandy bottom 100 feet from shore. Another man, holding to one end of a rope while others held the opposite end, waded to within five feet of Cooke and extended his hand toward him. Before Cooke could grasp the extended hand he was submerged by a five-foot breaker, reappearing briefly 400 feet from shore. Fifteen minutes later he was sighted in the surf 200 feet farther down the beach 20 feet from shore. Two men waded into the water and brought Cooke to the beach, where he was given artificial respiration. Cooke failed to respond and was removed to a hospital, where be was pronounced dead of drowning.
44186 – 417444186-4174