Father drowns saving daughters at lake

Published: Jun. 8, 2021 at 10:13 AM CDT
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FRIDLEY, Minn. (WCCO) - A Minnesota father is being remembered as a hero after he drowned while saving his little girls.

Leland Morris was 26 years old. He was swimming in Moore Lake with his daughters, ages 2 and 4, Sunday.

Diamond Beavers says she and her family, including the children’s father, were on inflatable rafts when 4-year-old Serenity began struggling.

“It looked to me like she was going to go under, so I started to get off,” Beavers said. “And he was like, ‘I got it. I am going to go get her.’”

She said what happened next is a blur. She also had her 3-month-old out on the water with her.

As Morris tried to save Serenity, he began struggling.

“Leland was screaming, ‘Help, help! Call 911!” Beavers said.

She said she thought she knew how to swim, and she thought Leland knew how to swim. But both struggled in the conditions.

“I’m watching him just flail, trying to get the girls from going under,” Beavers said.

“I got off my raft and went under the water. The sand sunk under my feet.”

Bystanders helped pull both girls to shore, but by then Morris was underwater and no one could find him.

“It was happening too fast. It was all within a 10-minute increment, like, we got in the pool five minutes, and everything went wrong,” Beavers said.

She said Morris gave his own life for the girls he adored.

“Leland was a hero; these kids called him hero every day,” she said.

“I didn’t expect for him to be gone this soon.”

Water safety experts say swimming in lakes can be harder than in pools. They sometimes have steep drop-offs that aren’t visible from the surface.

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