New beach flag sign warns others of deadly reality

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ST. GEORGE ISLAND, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A tragic accident might now have a positive impact in one community.

A memorial for Bruce Maynor will hopefully help save other lives.

"Bruce was a good young man, a loving young man, he really was," his mother, Angela Smith, said.

On a fateful April day, 29-year-old Bruce Maynor lost his life trying to save another's.

"Bruce went out to save his Godchild. This Godchild just ran into the water and another little boy came back and said a child was having problems in the water," his mother said.

"He did that without a thought, without a doubt," Maynor's wife, Amber Maynor said.

Officials say the water was rough that day.

"It was definitely a red flag day and people shouldn't have been in the water 'cause it was really, really bad," Franklin County Sheriff A.J. Smith explained.

"Once he got him [the Godchild] to someone else's arms, then he was was trying to get himself out which... he just didn't make it," Maynor's mother said.

Now, just over six months later, his family gathered at back St. George Island, where he spent his last day, to honor his memory.

"That's what pulls me through. What he, being a hero is what he... it's how I survive," his mother said. "It's how I am able to walk past his picture in the morning time or wear [his picture] around my neck every day. That's how I get through. That's all I can remember: he did something positive. Very heroic."

This memorial at the enterance to the island is only one of two beach safety flag systems signs near the public beaches.

"We wanted something that was much more visible when you first drive onto the island. This way there is a warning to show them what the water conditions are and there is also a reminder that someone did lose their life as a result of some extreme water conditions," Sheriff Smith said.

"When I first saw it, really saw it, I just boo-hooed. I just cried. It was... I couldn't believe this is my child," his mother said. "My child that did something great, I mean, I just couldn't believe it. I just cried, I couldn't believe it."

Through the dedication of the sign, Franklin County officials and Maynor's family hope this tragic experience will be a sign of caution for others.

"It makes it real. Having a face makes it real. We'll probably never know how many lives it does save, but we know it will because people are gonna see it and hopefully they're going to react to it," Sheriff Smith said. "I've worked around a lot of beaches and I've never seen anybody dedicate a spot to someone who gave their life. And maybe other beaches will do it, because we have a lot, Panama City loses people, Walton County loses people and I've never seen anybody, any county do something like this and I just think its a great reminder and a great tribute to an awesome guy."

"It just means so much," Maynor's widow said. "I'm happy and appreciative that the island did do something in his honor. I am."

"He is a hero. He's our hero and this is something that I am so grateful of Franklin County to do for us. We really, really appreciate it," Angela said.

County officials say they are working with county commissioners to try and get water condition warning signs installed at every public beach access on the island.