Former firefighter killed trying to rescue swimmers in Florida

Richie Alford (Banks County Fire & EMS)

A former firefighter and pillar of the Banks County community for several years has died attempting to save the lives of two swimmers in Florida on Thursday.

Richie Alford was in Panama City Beach and spotted the two swimmers, who were out in the rip current. Despite his best efforts, he was not able to make it back to shore, according to his former colleagues at Banks County Fire & EMS.

Alford had been a Banks County firefighter for several years, climbing through the ranks. His former co-workers say he loved his job and his community.

"Richie died doing what he loved which was helping others in their time of need. He is a true hero," a Facebook post on the Banks County Fire & EMS page read in part.

Several posts on Facebook show Alford teaching CPR or giving lessons to children on fire safety. 

Many members of the former softball teams he coached also pour condolences onto social media.

Family friends tell FOX 5 Alford resigned to focus on his family’s business.

Alford was married and had at least one child, according to posts.

Family and friends gathered for his funeral June 18. 

The Banks County Fire & EMS arranged a processional with several other agencies to escort Alford from LaGrange back to McGahee-Griffin and Stewart Funeral Home in Banks County Sunday afternoon.

This story is being reported out of Atlanta