Updated: June 07, 2021 06:37 PM
Created: June 07, 2021 06:09 PM
The family of a man who died of an apparent drowning in a north metro lake told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS he will be remembered as a hero.
The Anoka County Sheriff's Office said 26-year-old Leland Morris jumped into Moore Lake in Fridley to swim out to his children, who were struggling to get back to shore.
"I know that there's nothing different my brother would have done that day. If he could have done it again, he would've done it again to make sure that his babies were OK," Morris' sister Colette Moorman said.
First responders were called out to the lake at around 5:15 p.m. Sunday.
Investigators said two kids were on flotation devices and Morris tried to swim out to them but went underwater.
The children's mother and other bystanders were able to bring the children back to shore without any injuries.
The sheriff's office's marine unit found Morris unresponsive underwater.
"I feel like I lost a chunk of me," Moorman said, through tears. "But I know my brother did not die in vain."
Moorman said Morris was a father of three, with a 5-year-old, 3-year-old and a newborn baby.
She said Morris moved his family to Minnesota two years ago for a fresh start in a bigger city. He was pursuing a career in boxing and also worked as a tattoo artist.
Moorman said this has been a devastating month for their family, explaining that one of their other brothers was murdered in Arkansas in May.
"We just laid one brother to rest and 30 days later, my second baby brother loses his life. I just don't understand," Moorman said.
Marine units across the metro told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they are growing increasingly concerned after an uptick in water emergencies over the last few weeks.
Hennepin County Water Patrol said people flocking to beaches and lakes during this prolonged heatwave may be a factor.
They are urging people to wear life jackets when on a boat or near a body of water.
"Really try to supervise their children and each other when they're out near the water," Lt. Bill Gottwaldt said. "Everyone wants to have fun. We all enjoy the water. That's one of the great things about our state, but we just have to be careful because water is dangerous."
A donation page has been set up to help the family pay for Morris's funeral.
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