‘Truly an incredible human being;’ Friend remembers Beavercreek man who drowned trying to save child

BEAVERCREEK — Kyle Steele said he still can’t comprehend the death of his friend, who he called his “brother” after he drowned in Lake Michigan.

>> PREVIOUS REPORTING: Beavercreek man drowns in Lake Michigan after trying to rescue boy struggling in water, police say

Anthony “Tony” Diehl, 33, drowned after he tried to reach his 7-year-old nephew who was struggling in the water July 13, according to Steele.

Steele said the family was on a beach in South Haven, Michigan when a strong wave came in and pulled in a few members of the family — including Diehl’s 7-year-old nephew and his 9-year-old niece.

Diehl went into the water, passing his niece in an attempt to rescue his nephew who Steele said was pulled very far out and in a “dire situation.”

“The last time they saw him he was actually holding [his nephew], and then he disappeared,” Steele said.

Tragically, Diehl’s nephew also died. His identity has not been released.

>>PHOTOS: Beavercreek man drowns in Lake Michigan trying to save boy struggling in water

Steele said while Diehl’s death is surprising, his selfless act is not.

“Anybody who knows anything about Tony, its surprising that he passed away but when you hear the story about how he passed it away I don’t think it’s really surprising to anyone,” Steele told News Center 7′s John Bedell.

Steele said he still struggles to understand the loss.

“It’s an unfortunate tragedy ... it’s unfair, its sad. It’s hard to put into words and comprehend,” he said.

But he remembers the “truly incredible human being” he said Diehl was.

“[He was] someone to really admire and look up to, and taken far, far too soon,” he said.

Steele remembers Diehl as an “amazing father” to four children, including a three-month-old — also as a husband, uncle, and friend.

Ultimately, Steele said he is glad that the situation didn’t end up worse.

A child and two other adults were able to make it out safely with the help of family and other bystanders, South Haven police said.

“It’s bittersweet...but at least it wasn’t worse,” Steele said.

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