‘He wasn’t able to rescue himself’: Daughter of Alexander Co. flood victim shares father’s legacy

‘He wasn’t able to rescue himself’: Daughter of Alexander Co. flood victim shares father’s legacy
He moved to North Carolina this summer to be closer to family. (Source: N/A)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Several families are grieving the loss of loved ones after devastating flooding at the Hiddenite Family Campground in Alexander County.

Five people were killed, including 76-year-old Ron Wintemute.

Wintemute was a father, grandfather and great grandfather.

His family says he had just moved to the campground this summer from Pennsylvania to be closer to them.

Wintemute spent his life serving others, first in the Navy and then as a firefighter of 55 years.

“He’s got a number of rescues under his belt, and in the end he just wasn’t able to rescue himself," his daughter Christine Smith told WBTV.

Smith watched on the news as floodwaters ravaged the campground her dad called home.

Her calls and text messages to him went unanswered.

“I think that’s the hardest part for us because we just thought my goodness if anybody can get out of this, if anybody knows how, it’s dad," she said.

Rescue crews found his body on Friday. His daughter says he was wearing an old firefighter sweatshirt, so first responders wrapped him in an American flag to honor him.

“Until this week I never really understood the full magnitude of the impact my dad had on so many people," she said.

In his short time in the Hiddenite community, Wintemute rescued a dog and made close friends.

“Overwhelmingly the response is what a selfless giver my dad was," Smith said. "He never asked for anything in return, he never even expected a thank you in return.”

As she grieves, her thoughts are also with the families of the four other lives lost.

“That the Lord will give them courage and strength to find those moments about those loved ones that were so important to them and cherish those moments and never allow them to die," Smith said.

Smith says friends saw her father trying to drive his truck through the flood water Thursday morning, and that was the last time he was seen alive.

They found his rescued dog at the edge of the water.

Smith believes he would have saved the dog over himself.

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