An enjoyable vacation turned into tragedy Wednesday evening, July 22, as a Desoto County Sheriff’s deputy drowned during a family outing in Sandestin, Florida.

According to the Walton County Sheriff’s Department, Deputy William K. Nichols, 33, was pulled from the water after saving his son who was in distress.

The 33-year-old reportedly helped his son get back to shore but when he tried to return he was pulled back into the water.

Nichols was director of the Search and Rescue Division at the Desoto County Sheriff’s Department in Mississippi. He had been with the Department for 10 years, and dedicated his life to serving the public.

According to Chief Deputy Smith, rescuers performed CPR on Nichols and he was taken to Sacred Heart Hospital where he later died.

“We have no words to express our devastation,” wrote the Walton County Sheriff’s Department on their Facebook page. “Our hearts go out to his family and our brothers and sisters in Desoto County. Rest In Peace, brother. We have the watch.”

Nichols leaves behind a wife, an 18-year-old daughter, and a 10-year-old son.

“Words to describe Director Nichols would be humble, passionate, kind, and he always put others before himself,” read a statement from the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Department.

“Please keep the Nichols family in your prayers during this difficult time, and thank the Lord for men like Director Nichols who have given their life so that others may live … Director Nichols was the embodiment of a true hero,” according to the statement.