Hero stepdad, 30, who couldn’t swim dies after jumping in water to save stepdaughter

Mohammed Zolati, better known by his middle name Reza, did not know how to swim, but still jumped into a river to save his stepdaughter struggling in a deep pool attached to the River Erme on June 15 2021

Mohammed Zolati, known by his middle name
Mohammed Zolati, known by is middle name “Reza”, died after jumping into a river to save his stepdaughter

A hero stepdad jumped into a river to save his drowning stepdaughter despite being unable to swim.

Mohammed “Reza” Zolati was visiting Longtimber Woods in Ivybridge, Devon, on June 15 2021 with his two stepchildren when the tragedy happened.

An inquest at Plymouth Coroner’s Court today heard how the young girl managed to get herself out of the water before calling 999 for help, Devon Live reports.

The girl escaped without serious injury but Reza ended up struggling up in the water.

His stepson stopped a woman for help and other good samaritans attempted to pull Reza out from the popular deep body of water off the River Erme.

In a statement, the woman recalled how she and her friend were stopped by the boy while walking their dogs through the woods alongside the river.

The tragedy happened in Longtimber Woods in Ivybridge


Loop Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The boy then told them his stepfather had been in an accident and led her down a rocky slope to the river.

The inquest heard she saw the shape of a body floating under the water so jumped into the water to rescue him while her friend took over the 999 call from the stepdaughter.

She told how she was not a strong swimmer but tried to dive down into the water to reach him but was unable to, and said she kept getting swept away.

The passerby said: “It was awful.”

Even with the help of her friend they were still unable to. Another passerby joined in the effort and it was only when he was assisted by another man that there were able to pull his body from him onto the rocks and begin CPR.

However, Reza was unable to be revived and was confirmed dead at 7.50pm.

The initial passerby said: “What happened was tragic but I believe everyone who helped was brilliant.

“The little boy and girl deserve some credit as they were so calm and deserve praise too.”

The inquest heard the passerby had managed to keep the children and also members of the public away from the scene.

Reza, who was born in Iran and was a mechanic before moving to the UK, had been in the water for around 25 minutes before being rescued and was unable to be revived.

A post mortem confirmed the cause of his death was drowning.

His GP described Reza as being a ‘fit and well’ man.

A police investigation confirmed there were no suspicious circumstances or third party involvement.

Detective constable Rachel Walke said: “It appears from all our inquiries it was a tragic accident.”

She added that on arrival at the scene, police were initially concerned for the welfare of the children who could not be seen but they were confirmed as being safe and well at their nearby home.

DC Walke confirmed that the pool was a popular area for swimming and that it was deceptively deep and was ‘very difficult’ to get out of once in the water.

She added no rescue aids were available at the location.

Coroner Ian Arrow, who recorded a conclusion of accidental death, asked the officer to find out who owned the land and that he would then review whether it was appropriate to write to them to review the lack of rescue aids.

Following Reza’s death, a fundraiser was launched praising his heroic efforts and to raise funds to have his body flown back to his home country and for a memorial service in Devon.

The fundraising page said: “On Tuesday, June 15 2021, Reza’s stepdaughter got into some difficulty in the River Erme, located in Long Timber Woods, Ivybridge.

“Being the hero Reza was, he jumped in and saved her, but unfortunately he was unable to save himself as he was a non-swimmer.

“This goes to show how selfless Reza was, and he showed this every day. He leaves behind his girlfriend and 19-month-old little girl, as well as lots of friends and colleagues who all saw him as family.

“We are trying to raise funds so Reza can be flown to his home country, to be laid to rest in peace with the presence of the rest of his family.

“We are also wanting to hold a memorial service for Reza here in Ivybridge so all who knew him can show their love and respect for him.”

The gofundme page states that the fundraiser was halted after being reported as ‘fraudulent’ and was put under review.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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