Wichita father Jacob Farley, 26, died on Friday saving Madison Capps, 21, while on a float trip in Noel, Missouri.
The incident happened around 6:41 p.m. at the Elk River.
Accompanied by friends, Capps was swept away in the river’s powerful current and became trapped in the water.
Farley, who was on a similar trip with friends, was also caught in the current but he made it to shore.
However, noticing Capps was still struggling, Farley dived back in to help keep her afloat.
The two battled against the water for 30 minutes before a rescue team arrived.
While Capps was pulled to safety, Farley was pulled under and drowned.
Jacob Farley (pictured) is survived by his three-year-old son (left) after saving a woman from drowning in the Elk River
‘I’ve never been afraid of the water, but now it’s going to be different for the rest of my life,’ Capps told Fox 43. ‘I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget that and what he did for me.’
Capps takes a float trip most summers and attended this year’s annual swim with about a dozen people, including her boyfriend.
While wading in the water, her boyfriend became anxious when he no longer could feel the river bottom.
‘My boyfriend can’t swim so we were just going to go where we could touch,’ she said. ‘And then we got there, and it just kind of dropped off and he started to freak out.’
Attempting to help him, Capps pushed him back towards the shore. While her boyfriend made it to safety by grabbing a float, six of the group got caught in the current.
‘Everyone caught a log or tree in the water, and they were able to get out,’ Capps said. ‘I was the only one who got sucked under.’
Although Farley and Capps had never met, he jumped back in to help after he saw her struggling.
Thaaron Gillis, Farley’s friend, told KWCH 12, ‘When she fell off, he just couldn’t help himself anymore. Without thinking, he jumped straight into it, knowing that it was a dangerous situation.’
Capps recalls being pulled under the water. When she bobbed back up, Farley was at her side.
Capps told KWCH 12 , ‘I looked at him and I asked him, “What do we do?”
‘He said, “I don’t know, but he stayed there with me, and he kept talking to me and every time I’d go under and resurface, I’d feel his hand on my back.”‘
Grasping a float, the two were thrown around in the water and were desperate not to get tangled in the floating speakers.
The long rope tied to the floating speaker wrapped around Capps waist six times and wound itself around Farley’s ankle.
‘When I got it off, it wasn’t long after that he said there was something wrapped around his leg. And I told him he had to get it off, and he said he couldn’t. So we just sat there together until help came.’
Madison Capps remembers the sacrifice Farley gave and hopes to make him proud by living her life as best she can
Eventually a rescue team from the Missouri State Highway Patrol came to pull them from the river. Capps was rescued first, grasping onto a rope as the MSHP crew pulled her to safety on land.
When Capps turned around, Farley wasn’t there.
‘I’m feeling guilty,’ Capps told Fox 43, ‘because if we hadn’t been down there, he wouldn’t have jumped in. But he was so brave – and selfless.’
The Elk River in Noel, Missouri spans 35 miles and is visited every year by tourists
Capps says she’s never going to forget Farley’s sacrifice and wants to continue to live her life to make him proud.
‘He was a stranger,’ Capps said ‘He didn’t know me. He came to jump and save me anyways.’
Gillis remembers his friend as a loving father, a hard worker and a hero.
Jacob Farley saved Madison Capps by keeping her alive for 30 minutes
‘He fought more to try to help her than he tried to help himself,’ Gillis told KWCH12. ‘His main goal when he jumped in was to make sure that she stayed above water.’
Thinking about the event, Capps is grateful for Farley courage and strength.
‘I’m so thankful,’ Capps said, ‘because I don’t know if I would have held on if he weren’t down there with me.’
Farley’s family is glad Capps is okay.
His mother told Ozark First, ‘I did talk to him that morning and I got to tell him I love him and to be careful.’
Farley’s funeral is scheduled for Saturday and a GoFundMe page is available to help his family cover funeral costs.