A Washington, D.C. man walking on the beach with his girlfriend in South Florida didn't hesitate to help when he saw two boys struggling in the ocean water.
Charles Schulze, 70, immediately dove into the Atlantic and swam out to both boys, ages 9 and 12, who were caught in a rip current.
As he got close to the shore at Pompano Beach, onlookers jumped into the water and brought the boys onto land. The boys were fine.
That was when his girlfriend, Helen Smith of Washington, D.C., started yelling for help and bystanders saw Schulze floating face-down in the water.
"He had either some kind of medical issue or became overwhelmed himself," Pompano Beach Fire Rescue spokeswoman Sandra King told the Miami Herald.
Two men jumped into the water and brought Schulze to shore. But despite the efforts of some beachgoers who performed CPR, the boys' rescuer was pronounced dead a short time later at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, the Palm Beach Post reported.
"He's a hero," King said. "He saved the lives of these two boys."
The man who pulled Schulze from the ocean swallowed some water during the attempted rescue, at about 1 p.m., and was taken to Imperial Point Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, King said.
Schulze and Smith, both DC residents, owned a condominium in Pompano Beach and were regular visitors to South Florida.
Detectives are still investigating the cause of Schulze's death.
Schulze is survived by three sons, a daughter and five grandchildren. One of his son, Baltimore resident Charles Schulze Jr., described his father, a personal injury attorney and an avid tennis player, as a man "who enjoyed every ounce of his life. And his whole life he was about helping people in trouble" according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Services will be held in Washington, D.C.