Man dies trying to help woman, toddler off St. Simons Island Beach

Woman, child make it back to shore; woman dies later at hospital

BRUNSWICK, Ga. – A 39-year-old father of two died Sunday while trying to save a woman and a toddler from drowning off the coast of St. Simons Island. The woman also died.

Glynn County police said Gregory Grant, of Brunswick, tried to rescue 34-year-old Aleisha Rankin, of Jesup, and a young child who were struggling to make it back to shore near Massengale Park just before 6 p.m.

The toddler made it back safely, but Rankin died at Southeast Georgia Health Systems' Brunswick Campus. After a search that went into the night, Grant’s body was found Monday morning and recovered by Glynn County Search and Recovery and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Grant's mother said the family is devastated. She said he was a good man and she wasn't surprised he died trying to help others.

A longtime friend of Grant told News4Jax the same thing. 

"He was a good guy," Mario Baggs said. "He cared about others. The last time I saw him, we were in the store and he was getting dinner ready for Easter Sunday. He said, 'Baggs, I love you boy,' and I said, 'I love you, too, man.'"

At the popular oceanfront park Monday, flowers and a rock painted with the word "prayers" are the only visible signs of the tragedy. Baggs said that beach will never seem the same.

"He came out here swimming many a days, many holidays during the summer. He knew the water well," Baggs said. "I don’t know what happened yesterday."

Baggs said everything is in God’s hands. He’s praying for comfort for the 39-year-old's family, especially for the woman who lost her son on Mother’s Day.

Massengale Park only has lifeguards between Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.