Dozens of family and friends gathered Saturday afternoon to honor Brian Kowalski, a Trinity man who died earlier this month while saving the life of an 8-year-old boy.
"It's just a celebration of Brian's life and how many people he touched," said Steve Kowalski, Brian's brother.
Brian Kowalski, 39, was on a trip off the southern coast of Florida near Johnson Key with his daughter, Erin Kowalski, and some friends August 12.
Erin, 10, said two boys were swimming off the back of their boat while holding onto a rope. When the rope got caught in the propeller, one of the boys started drifting away. Her father dove in after the boy, who was eventually pulled to safety. Kowalski, however, never made back and his body was found two days later.
"Really terrifying to be honest because that was my dad. I was really worried about him, what was going to happen," Erin said before the memorial for her dad at the Seven Springs Golf and Country Club on Trophy Boulevard. "I'm holding together pretty well. I'm just staying strong and I know that it's going to be OK at the end."
Saving the 8-year-old's life was Kowalski's second heroic act; in 2003, revived a baby who'd stopped breathing.
Friends and family described him as selfless.
"He was my hero," his brother said.
"He was a great man," Erin said. "He never had anything bad to say about anybody. He was amazing."
Loved ones are raising money to help support Erin and through the Web site, gofundme.com, have raised more than $4,100 so far.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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