Jason Smith was kayaking down Alabama's Tallapoosa River on Sunday with his three sons when his kayak started moving too quickly.
According to AL.com, Smith attempted to grab a tree limb to slow it down. But instead, the maneuver forced the kayak to overturn.
The dad immediately started looking for his three- and four-year-olds in the water.
His 12-year-old son was in his own kayak, WBRCreports. He jumped out and was able to save his four-year-old brother. Then, he watched as his dad and brother disappeared in the current.
Unfortunately, as WVTM 13 reports, neither Smith nor the three-year-old boy was wearing a life jacket.
Search and rescue teams from several Alabama counties joined forces to help find the dad and three-year-old boy. Both of their bodies were recovered from the river by Monday afternoon.
Cleburne County Coroner Tracey Lambert told AL.com that the boating tragedy could've been avoided:
“Any time you are in the water, always wear a life jacket.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 3,536 people die by drowning the U.S. every year. In 2010, there were 672 deaths related to boating. In 88 percent of boat-related fatalities, victims were not wearing life jackets. Additionally, nearly 80 percent of people who die from drownings are male.
As the Heflin, Alabama, community mourns the loss of two family members, authorities hope their tragic story can remind more people to bring along floatation devices when on the water.