When his 3-year-old son fell off the bridge into the deep channel below, Christopher Schultz did not hesitate; he went right in after him.

He found the boy, but began to struggle while keeping the child above water.

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Friends onshore Saturday night at Long Bridge went into the water and brought the child to safety, but Schultz never resurfaced.

When they went back out into Detroit Lake to help him, he was gone, said his friend, Matthew Clark of Detroit Lakes. Schultz was dressed for a fishing trip with his son, not swimming, and "his boots took him down," Clark said.

Schultz, 31 of Frazee, was pronounced dead later that evening at Essentia St. Mary's Hospital, just a few hours before Father's Day officially began.

Days later, Schultz's family and friends remembered him as a hero.

His wife of two years, Chelsie Schultz, said she wasn't surprised that Chris gave everything to save his son. "He's a hero. He would've done it even if it wasn't his kid," Chelsie said. "He would've helped no matter what."

"He was a good guy," Clark said. "He made an impact on a lot of people."

Schultz loved disc golf, fishing and working on cars, said Kayla Zajac of North Dakota. Her husband, Dylan, worked with Schultz at Tires Plus in Detroit Lakes, and they all spent a lot of time together, she said.

"We used to go to the disc golf course and hang out with him, or go fishing with him, usually offshore, usually at Long Bridge or off the pier (on the Detroit Lakes city beach)." she said.

Whether it was helping her change spark plugs in her car or helping her heal emotionally after a miscarriage, Zajac said Schultz "was always willing to help out-he was always there to put a smile on your face," she said. "He was a very, very good guy-he will be missed by many."

Saturday evening, firefighters, emergency medical workers and law enforcement officers towing boats rushed to Long Bridge after getting the emergency call at 8:22 p.m.

Officers from the Detroit Lakes Police Department and Becker County Sheriff's Office, along with St. Mary's EMS personnel, immediately began searching for the victim.

At 9:07 p.m., with help from a fisherman and the Becker County Dive Rescue Team, Schultz was found. He was taken to Essentia St. Mary's Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The child was treated for nonlife-threatening injuries.

Becker County Sheriff Todd Glander said Tuesday that the incident is still under investigation and his office could not release any additional information.

In addition to his wife, Schultz leaves behind a 5-year-old boy, 3-year-old twins - one boy and one girl - and one boy, age 1.

A GoFundMe account has been set up for the Schultz family to help pay for funeral expenses and to care for Schultz's children. Furey Funeral Home in Frazee is in charge of arrangements, according to an obituary notice. A private family gathering will be at a later date.

"I'm thankful that I can still look my son in the eyes and see him today," Chelsie said. "(I'm) wishing that we would be able to do it together, but at least I have my son to remember him by."

WDAY reporter Tyler Ziegler contributed to this story.