A Montgomery Police officer drown in the Gulf Coast -- after being caught in a rip current. Today, those who knew him say they're mourning, but also say they're proud of him because he died trying to save someone else's life.
I spoke with several people who knew Lt. Rian Rider and they say his passion was to help victims. He was a man who always went beyond the call of duty, whether or not he was in uniform. But those who knew him say it's the reason why Rider drowned that ultimately makes him a true hero.
A police department in mourning....
"You know, I don't know how to say goodbye," Said Cpt. Jenny Smith, who says she worked with Rider the last 12 years.
Black bows hang outside of the Montgomery Police Department in memory of Rider. The Orange Beach Police Department says he got caught in a rip current and was pulled about 80 feet into the gulf. He went under water for two minutes before lifeguards pulled him out. He was then air lifted to the hospital and pronounced dead.
"When I found out that he had passed away it was just devastating," Said Smith
She, along with other officers reminisced on the good times with Rider. And they say they're not shocked about why Rider went into the water: it was to save his niece from drowning.
"That he took the action that he did. Of course, the final events are shocking. Surreal, but it's no surprise that he would care for her in the manner that he did," Said commander of the Criminal Investigations Division, Bryan Jurkofsky.
"He loved helping victims, especially children. And now his current position where he was working helping victims of domestic violence," Said Lt. Zedrick Dean.
Rider spent 12 years with the police department, serving in the patrol, juvenile and criminal investigations division. Most recently, he was the commander over Special Victims and Domestic Violence Units at the One Place Family Justice Center.
"When he walked in a room he just always had a smile on his face," Said Steve Searcy, Director of the One Place Family Justice Center.
A smile so contagious...
"We've had plenty of times to laugh with him and dance, as the Bible says. But we'll have more of those times thinking about him and remembering him. But I love him," Said Cpt. Al Wheeler.
And "loving him" is the message those who knew him want to send...
"I'll be there for him like he was there for me and his family will still be taken care of," Said Lt. Christina Thorton.
"We'll take it from here. And we'll see you on the other side," Said Sgt. Jason Thorton.
Rider's family was unable to be on camera with us as they fly back from Orange Beach. But they say Rider was a son, a brother, an uncle; and his nephew Sean and niece Harley worshipped him. Harley is the niece that he saved.
Rider's funeral arrangements have not been set.