Funeral service will be held Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Christian Haven Church in Wausau.
VERNON — Double red flags signal not to enter the water. But, like a professional lifeguard - a career he once held - the sight of a child drowning prompted 48-year-old Vernon resident Richard Stacey Redmon to ignore those flags to save a life.
However, in the lifesaving act of rescuing a boy and his mother this past weekend, Stacey, the name Richard went by, would lose his own life.
"We were just there walking on the beach to find our friends and then go have dinner with them, none of this was supposed to happen," said Alisha Redmon, Stacey's wife of 25 years. "But, then I tell myself - if I hadn't seen that kid and I hadn't said what I said and (Stacey) didn't do what he did - there would have been two deaths that day: that mother would have been dead and that boy."
Stacey died on Friday, June 21, after attempting to rescue a little boy presumably under the age of 10, and subsequently, the boy's mother, out of riptide at Russell-Fields Pier on Panama City Beach in Bay County.
A funeral service for Stacey will be held 11 a.m. Wednesday, June 26 at Christian Haven Church in Wausau. The family will receive friends for visitation one hour prior to the service at the church.
Stacey, his wife, and their three children Shelby, 19, Dakota, 13, and Maddie, 11, had happened to be walking the sandy beaches that day while waiting on another family with whom they were supposed to be meeting to have dinner.
However, the Redmons mistakenly arrived at the wrong pier. As they walked at Russell-Fields, their friends were waiting on them at the right meeting place - M.B. Miller County Pier.
During that walk, Redmon saw a little boy struggle to fight back waves and keep his head above water.
"I said 'Stacey,' and he turned his head, and I pointed and said 'that boy is in trouble,'" Redmon said, detailing the incident. "He dropped that wallet out of his pocket, he dove in and went after him. That was (Stacey). He just automatically knew where to turn."
"It was instant," she said.
According to her testimony, moments later a surfer by the name of Justin swam to Stacey, who appeared to be fine. Despite the extremely dangerous riptide he himself was caught in, Stacey directed Justin to "go save those two," Redmon said, referring to the boy and mother.
"My husband is a hero to me," Redmon said, adding that the surfer, Justin, who would also pull Stacey from the waters, said her husband was his hero because he would not have just stayed out there, knowing the conditions, and say 'go help those people first.'"
"That has given me a lot of peace, because Stacey could have just come on in, but no, that's not him," she added.
The regional community, including state representatives and others, have responded to Stacey Redmon's courageous act with promises of prayer, words of encouragement, and financial support.
As of Tuesday morning, a Facebook fundraiser page and a GoFundMe page opened by Redmon's sister had raised a combined total of $7,505 to help offset funeral costs. The pages state Stacey was a disabled veteran.
"People are wonderful, they are praying," she said. "We weren't supposed to be there, it was God to put us there," she said later.
Redmon vows, aside of attempting to save the lives of the child and mother, her husband's sacrifice will not be in vain. She said, the story is not over.
"Something has to be done, it's ridiculous," Redmon said. "There has to be a consequence" for people who go in the water when the double red flags are up. Redmon said she plans to pursue some kind of legal action in response to the family's disregard of the flags.