Human Interest N.Y. Dad, 48, Dies Trying to Save Kids from Drowning While on Vacation in Florida: 'Hearts Are Broken' Dale McCormick was a beloved soccer coach at Oneida High School, where he was known for his extraordinary ability to connect with kids By Abigail Adams Abigail Adams Instagram Twitter Digital News Writer, PEOPLE People Editorial Guidelines Published on February 23, 2023 12:22 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: GoFundMe A soccer coach and father of two from New York died unexpectedly Sunday while on a family vacation in Florida. Dale McCormick, 48, drowned while trying to save his children in the Atlantic Ocean, where they were swimming during a beach day in Melbourne, Fla., according to Oneida Daily Dispatch and NBC affiliate WKTV. McCormick entered the water after his son and daughter were caught up in a riptide, per the reports. The children were rescued, but Dale did not survive. Back in New York, Dale was a beloved soccer coach who was known for his extraordinary ability to connect with kids, according to Syracuse.com. "He could motivate them like no one else. He was fun to be with," Dale's assistant coach, Andy Butler, told the outlet. "Once you sign up children to be on his team, they become his kids." Parents of 13-Year-Old Who Died in Aruba Boating Accident Work to Educate Others on Waterfront Safety The McCormicks traveled to Florida last week for a vacation that involved visiting his wife Bettina's sister Mary in St. Cloud, according to Syracuse.com. On Sunday, the group ventured an hour out to Melbourne Beach, a place they'd reportedly visited multiple times in the past. McCormick's two children, 11th-grader Jaden and seventh-grader Cortney, entered the water shortly after they arrived at the beach, Bettina told the outlet. Not long after, the children realized they were caught in an undertow and struggling to get back to safety. "I thought I was going to die," Jaden told Syracuse.com. Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free weekly newsletter to get the biggest news of the week delivered to your inbox every Friday. Cortney said she eventually battled her way through the waves to the beach, according to the outlet. But her brother was unable to do the same, so their father went after him. Two surfers later managed to grab Jaden and pull him to shore, Syracuse.com reported. However, Dale was now missing. A short time later, Mary reportedly saw Dale floating in the water and flagged down someone to help. He was also pulled to shore but desperate attempts to revive him were unsuccessful. Dale and Bettina were married for 24 years, according to Syracuse.com. "Dale is the only person I ever dated, or loved, or anything," Bettina told the outlet. "This ended way too soon." 11-Week-Old Boy Found Dead in Submerged Car After His Mother Drove into Floodwaters in West Virginia The Oneida High School All-Sports Booster Club said Dale's death "is a huge loss to the community and his family" in a post shared Monday on their Facebook page A GoFundMe campaign has been started to support the McCormick family following Dale's sudden death. Diane Farina, who organized the fundraiser, said the late father of two was a kind soul who was "always willing to lend a helping hand." "Many hearts are broken and he leaves behind his wife, their two children, family, friends and a community that he has impacted in several ways over the course of many years," she wrote on the page. "Dale was a crazy, boisterous, passionate, fun-loving individual who was also highly competitive and touched so many lives," Farina, described by Syracuse.com as a family friend, continued. Services for Dale will be held on March 4 at the New Hope Christian Community Church in Oneida, where Dale and Bettina were married nearly 25 years ago, the outlet reports.