Christopher Franklin Nicholas Schultz loved being a father. He enjoyed working with his hands. And he was, ironically, a skilled swimmer, according to his family.
“That man cared more about his kids than anyone else I’ve ever met,” said Ryan Olson, his brother, of Eagan. “If he wasn’t at work, he was with his children.”
Schultz, 31, died Saturday night after jumping off a bridge at Detroit Lake to rescue his 3-year-old son, Ashton, who had fallen off the bridge and into the water.
The toddler survived, but Schultz struggled in the lake and drowned, the Becker County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.
The area where the incident occurred is a popular destination where people from the area gather to fish and swim. “Everybody goes there,” Olson said.
It’s also a popular place for daredevils to jump off the bridge, called Long Bridge, which separates Detroit Lake from Deadshot Lake, according to Kyle Meacham, who lives in Detroit Lakes.
Olson said wasn’t surprised that Schultz went in after his son.
“He would jump after anybody’s kids,” Olson said. “The man wore his heart on his sleeve and gave everyone a piece of it.”
Olson said his brother, a resident of Frazee, was a “phenomenal swimmer.” However, it was a chilly night and Schultz was dressed accordingly. His clothes likely became too heavy and weighed him down, Olson said.
About 8:22 p.m., the sheriff’s office received a report of a possible drowning near Long Bridge at Dead Shot Bay. Officers were told that a toddler had fallen in and the child’s father had jumped in to rescue him. The father began to falter as he tried to keep the child above water. Bystanders rescued the child, but the man never came back up, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Paramedics and officers from the Detroit Lakes Police Department and the Sheriff’s Office searched for the missing man.
With aid from a fisherman and the Becker County Dive Rescue Team, they found Schultz at 9:07 p.m. He was taken to Essentia Health St. Mary’s Hospital in Detroit Lakes, where he was pronounced dead, according to a release from the Sheriff’s Office. Ashton was treated for noncritical injuries.
On Facebook, several people shared their condolences, along with disbelief.
“He was a really cool dude. I am so at a loss for words,” wrote Matthew Clark, a friend.
Olson said his brother worked in the trades and found time to assist others, whether fixing a car or building something around the house.
“It doesn’t matter what’s broken, he’ll fix it,” Olson said. “If you needed help, he would help you.”
In addition to Ashton, Schultz had three other children: a twin to Ashton, as well as an older and a younger boy, Olson said.
“He lived and died for his kids,” Olson said. “The man went out a hero.”
Erin Adler • 612-673-1781