Local News

Methuen man drowns trying to save child from rip current at Salisbury Beach

Gary Simard was enjoying a beach day with his family when a child was pulled far from shore.

A lifeguard at Salisbury Beach in 2021. David L. Ryan/Boston Globe

A Methuen man died after going into the water to save a child at Salisbury Beach Wednesday.

Gary Simard, 44, was at the beach with family when one of the children with them got pulled far from shore and could not swim back in, according to Essex District Attorney Paul F. Tucker’s office.

Simard and two bystanders went into the water to save the child. The two bystanders successfully brought the child back to shore, but then could not locate Simard, officials said.

Firefighters and police officers responded to the beach just before 12:45 p.m. after receiving reports of multiple swimmers in distress. They were told that four people were caught in a rip current


First responders found that most of those in distress had been successfully removed from the water “through the heroic actions of bystanders,” according to a social media post from Salisbury Fire Chief Scott Carrigan. 

Simard remained in the water about 50 to 75 yards from shore. He appeared to be unresponsive. First responders were able to bring him back to land within a few minutes.

Life saving measures were performed on Simard as soon as he made it to shore. He was transported to Seabrook Emergency Room, where he was pronounced dead, according to Tucker’s office.

One of the other people who helped save the child was sent to a local hospital due to breathing troubles, but was later released, officials said.

Rip current risk levels are available to the public through the National Weather Service. Swimmers should know the risk levels before going to the beach, and stay away from piers and jetties, as permanent rip currents often exist alongside these structures, according to the NWS. 

NOAA offers the following tips for people stuck in rip currents:

  • Relax, rip currents don’t pull you under.
  • Don’t swim against the current.
  • You may be able to escape by swimming out of the current in a direction following the shoreline, or toward breaking waves, then at an angle toward the beach.
  • You may be able to escape by floating or treading water if the current circulates back toward shore.
  • If you feel you will be unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself. If you need help, yell and wave for assistance.


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