Tag Archives: Joel Fegarido

In Honor of a Hero

Most of you who are friends or regular readers know about our friend Joel Fegarido who drowned recently while saving his son Joey from the Snake River on his last day of vacation in Wyoming. I have posted many article links in past posts. Now I want to ask a favor of you.

If you could spare the five minutes or so it takes to do this, I would love for you to click on the link below and watch the interview that Eva (Joel’s wife) and Joey did on Friday. It’s about an essay that Eva wrote to try to win 50 laptops for our small church school.

She is a strong and amazing woman, and Joey a thoughtful and caring little man – both of whom are so proud of Joel, and miss him terribly. They agreed to do this interview in hopes that people would vote for Shoal Creek Adventist School, and thereby fulfill a dream of Joel’s. As School Board Chairman, Joel had a big dream for this little school. One of them was to get the students access to better computer equipment.

Eva saw this opportunity and took it. Just watch the video – and then please take the time to click on the link to Charter at the bottom of the written article and vote for Shoal Creek Adventist School. We are currently in third place. We all want this in honor of Joel.

Eva and Joey’s interview on 11 Alive News

Direct link to Charter Laptop Contest

Thank you so much.




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Eva’s Story

I will try once again to get the words out of my mind & off my fingers and onto this page. It has been difficult for me to formulate Eva’s words onto the page without somehow losing the importance and sincerity of her words. I pray that this all comes accross right and that it helps someone who might be struggling with questions over this sad event. Eva is such a strong, wise woman and her faith is remarkable. And I might add that so is the faith of Joey. That sweet boy spoke to his church family last week – stood up and spoke right into that microphone – and thanked us all for being there for his mom, him and sister. An amazing kid! He was before all this… and he continues to be now… as he becomes the man of the house.

(I have Eva’s permission to write and post this story.)


Eva’s Story

It was Saturday, the last day of their Wyoming vacation. Joel had spent the first part of the day fly fishing with his buddy Jim. Eva and the kids spent the time at the hotel pool, accompanied by Amy (Jim’s wife) and their kids.

The men came to the pool in the afternoon when they had “caught 20 fish”… and joined the kids in the pool for a while. (apparently, they were gone a little longer than the wives expected – and their excuse was that they were not going to stop until they had caught 20 fish!)

Toward evening, they all headed to Jim and Amy’s house to have a taco dinner. On the way, they decided to stop and see this particularly beautiful spot in the river called *Lunch Counter. Eva said it was gorgeous. They hiked on a little further down stream to a smaller area that the kids could jump off some rocks and into the calmer waters of an **eddy in the river. The current of the eddy brought them right back around to the pebbly shore where they could just walk out and do it again. They were there for some time enjoying the scenery, the cool water and the sound of inexplicable joy.

This was not an isolated area. There were people kayaking, playing at the edges and * watching along the sides at * Lunch Counter as well. This area was but a few miles from the reservoir.

 As they were getting ready to head on out and go have tacos, Joey (Joel and Eva’s 10-year-old son) was going for his last jump off the rocks. Of course Joel stayed in the water waiting for him. But for some reason, Joey did not just come back around in the current of the eddy like every other time. Either the rivers current had changed or he jumped a little farther out… nobody knows for sure, but he was most definitely caught up in the fast river current.

As soon as they realized it, Joel went out after him. He got to him and kept him up above the water, talking to him and telling him what to do the whole time. (For those of you who don’t know Joel – he is an avid outdoorsman, and an ex-lifeguard.) Apparently they went down the river about a quarter of a mile before Joel was able to shove Joey to a rock where he was quickly rescued by a kayaker. The kayaker, after depositing Joey on shore to the waiting arms of Jim, took off again into the river to get Joel.

Eva and Amy, with the girls, headed back up the trail to the car. They sped down to the site in the river where the kayakers get out. She expected that he would just ride it out down to this spot and then walk out of the river. He never showed up.

After a few minutes and asking every kayaker that got out if they’d seen him, they realized that they were in real trouble. They called for help. Rescuers were there very quickly and with the help of some of the kayakers they began to scour the water and the shores for him. They searched into the night.

Eva kept a keen eye out for the kayaker that got Joey off the rock. She wanted to thank him. She needed to thank him. She also needed to know what he saw when he went back out for Joel. It was a part of the river that she couldn’t see – and there was that nagging gray area in her mind. She needed some answers. But she never did see him.

She spent a sleepless night waiting.

By evening the next day, the searchers told her to take her kids home. They would continue the search until they found him and there was nothing more she could do. She went unwillingly. Somewhere in her mind, there were still a few crazy scenarios that could have happened. It’s possible. Anything’s possible.

Alas, she reluctantly boarded the plane for home without Joel on Monday morning with her distraught kids in tow.

She and the kids were kindly boarded first on the plane. As she sat waiting for the other passengers to board, a hand rested on her shoulder. She looked up into an unfamiliar face. The man gently said, “I know you probably don’t recognize me, but I am the kayaker that got your boy off the rock.” Eva, began to weep.

He pulled away and apologized telling her he was very sorry to upset her and began down the isle. Eva grabbed his hand and said, “No, You don’t understand, I’ve been praying to find you. I wanted to thank you for rescuing my son.”

They hugged, talked and shared phone numbers. He was able to fill in that vexing grey area for her. What a blessing. What a miracle that this man would be delivered to Eva at that moment. See… he actually lived there in Jackson Hole. He normally wouldn’t have been on a plane at all. But he was taking his teenage son to a specialist in Salt Lake City for an appointment. Truth is… he didn’t even recognize her… his son recognized Joey. How truly amazing. It helped start her off on her long road to a healed heart.

God is good – even in the midst of tragedy.

To all of you who know and loved Joel, I hope this helps. I know it did for me. A reminder that God still has his hand in this even though it seems like He wasn’t there at the River when Joel needed Him. We don’t understand the why’s and how’s, but He was. And He had that kayaker lined up to be on that plane… to speak to Eva what she needed to hear.

God was there. And He continues to be with Eva and her family, as Joel rests until that glorious day!


This week, as we prepare for our Celebration Of Joel’s Life on Saturday the 14th, at the Peachtree City SDA Church where Joel so selflessly gave of his time, his energy, his knowledge and his love for God, I ask that you please keep his family in your prayers. They will need many prayers for strength and healing as they work towards picking up their bruised and broken hearts and moving on in this life. They know they will some day see him again… it’s just going to be a difficult wait.

Cards/letters may be sent to the Peachtree City SDA Church on the behalf of the Fegarido Family, 4957 Hwy 34 East, Sharpsburg, GA 30277.

Delta has also created a fund for the continued education of the kids, Joey and Jamie. If you’d like to contribute, contact any branch of the Delta Community Credit Union and ask for the Joel Fegarido Honorary Fund.

We love you Eva, Joey and Jamie.

 Let our Sovereign Lord hold you in his nail scared hands and comfort you while you wait for that glorious day.



*All links and photos are not mine or Eva’s and are in no way related to this event. They are photos I’ve found on-line to kind of show you what the river looks like, although I do not know exactly where they were on the river.

**Eddy – An eddy is a place in a river where the water is moving in a different direction or different speed than the main current. Eddies are made by rocks in the river, outcroppings along the side, behind logs, bridge pilings, and also on the inside of bends or along the side of the river. Eddies are places where kayakers can sit and stay relatively still instead of floating downstream. Eddies come in handy for scouting, resting, accessing playspots, etc.


Filed under In The News, Our Friends Around the World

Memorial Service for Joel Fegarido

A Memorial Service to celebrate the life of Joel Fegarido will the held Sabbath, August 14, 2010 at 4:00 in the afternoon at the Family Life Center of the Peachtree City Seventh-day Adventist Church in Sharpsburg, GA.

Please pass this information on to other friends and family and continue to pray for the entire Fegarido/Wilkinson/Durham families.

Delta Airlines has set up a fund for the family. Those wishing to contribute  can do so at their local Delta Credit Union. The branch nearest Newnan is 678-423-6010 and located on HWY 34 one mile past Thomas Crossroads. There is also one in PTC on HWY 74 and Wisdom Rd.

The family covets your prayers.

Copied from our church email communication posts by Nancy Cale

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Another Article about Joel

I will eventually write out the event as Eva told me on Friday, but I am having a hard time with it. Just want to make sure I tell it in the right way. It’s much harder than I thought. Eve wants the facts out for those that knew and loved Joel, but I am feeling very insecure about writing it. So in the meantime… you can read another update from the AJC. ~hi-d

Another update from the Atlanta Journal Constitution

Body of Missing Newnan Man Found


JACKSON, WY —  Lincoln County Wyoming Sheriff’s deputies confirm the body of 46-year-old Joel Fegarido of Newnan was found Friday about 4 miles downstream from where he was swept away last week.

Fegarido dove into the Snake River Canyon to save his 10 year old son Joey. He was able to get Joey onto a rock where he was rescued by kayakers, but Fegarido was unable to get out of the river and was swept away. Search and rescue teams in Wyoming’s Lincoln County recovered the body about 1:00 p.m. local time Friday.

Johnson said several people on boats followed Fegarido after he fell into the water and tried to catch up with him but were

Rob Wilkinson, Fegarido’s brother-in-law, said family members in Newnan were contacted by search and rescue team members at about 3PM Friday about Joel’s recovery.

“The family wishes to thank all the people who assisted in the search and recovery and the countless number of friends, family and co-workers who have offered us tremendous help and support during this most tragic time in our lives,” Wilkinson said.

A fund has been established for the continued education of Joel’s children. Fegarido and his wife Eva have two children, Joey, age 10 and Jaime, age 7. Interested parties can contact any branch of the Delta Community Credit Union and ask for the Joel Fegarido Honorary Fund.

In an earlier e-mail, Fegarido’s wife Eva told 11 Alive News “I want your viewers to know what a selfless person my husband was and what a hero he has always been to our family. Joey was also very obedient and brave and his dad would be very proud of him.”

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A Sad Update on Our Friend Joel


Father’s body found in Snake River Canyon

By Jeff Bishop

The Newnan Times-Herald

Lincoln County Wyoming Sheriff’s deputies confirm the body of 46-year-old Joel Fegarido of Newnan was found Friday about four miles downstream from where he was swept away last week.

Joel Fegarido, 46,  jumped into the water in the Snake River Canyon during a family vacation to rescue his son from the strong current.

His church family, the Peachtree City Seventh Day Adventist Church, held out hope Fegarido would be rescued alive, but their worst fears were confirmed Friday night.

// “Joel was definitely the kind of guy who would give his life for somebody else, but especially for his children,” said Branndan Vanegmond, who served with Fegarido on the church school board.

“Our kids go to school together at the Shoal Creek Adventist School,” in Sharpsburg, she said. “We also all go to church together.

“Joel was the kind of guy where, if you need something done, you could go to him, and he would always have a smile, and he was willing to do it himself or to help find somebody to do it,” she said.

Fegarido was a “real leader,” she said, and a man who “had all his priorities in order,” putting God and his family right at the top.

“You could tell by his character and by what he did in his life that God was his first priority, along with his family and friends. He was a constant source of encouragement to everyone who knew him.”

He got a chance to express his leadership abilities as chairman of the school board, she said.

“If you ever did anything he was always good about patting you on the back and letting you know you were appreciated,” she said. “He appreciated anything that people did for the school. He was just a really good guy.”

It was apparent that he “adored” his children, she said, so no one was surprised when he jumped into the river to save them.

“They were definitely the most important thing for him,” she said. “I’m sure he didn’t have a second thought about it.”

Until his body was found, she and other church members were “praying for a miracle,” Vanegmond said.

“We were praying that he would be found alive somewhere in the woods, but it wasn’t to be,” she said.

“But we still believe there is a purpose to everything that happens,” she said. “We serve a God who promises beauty from the ashes, and as a church family we are still praying for miracles to come from this tragedy. That’s the kind of God that Joel served here.”

The Fegaridos were on vacation at Yellowstone National Park with friends and family. Fegarido was an employee of Delta Airlines who operated his own local real estate business, Stellar Properties, on the side. He has been the school board chairman of the Shoal Creek Adventist School in Sharpsburg for approximately two years.

Fegarido dove into the Snake River Canyon to save his 10-year-old son, Joey. He was able to get Joey onto a rock where he was rescued by kayakers, but Fegarido was unable to get out of the river and was swept away. Search and rescue teams in Wyoming’s Lincoln County recovered the body about 1 p.m. local time Friday.

Family members in Newnan were contacted by search and rescue team members around 3 p.m. Friday about Joel’s recovery.

A fund has been established for the continued education of Joel’s children. Fegarido and his wife, Eva, have two children, Joey, age 10, and Jaime, age 7. Interested parties can contact any branch of the Delta Community Credit Union and ask for the Joel Fegarido Honorary Fund.

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Amazing Grace

We love you Joel.

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Some Healing Time

Our church held a prayer vigil last night for Joel and his family. It was such a wonderful thing to do when so many hearts are hurting. Gather together and sing, pray and share stories of Joel. No doubt it was emotional, but it was helpful too. I don’t know how that works exactly… but somehow… when people gather in love for another, it just has a healing effect.

Many people came. The little church was full. Folks from his workplace at Delta were there… neighbors and friends, as well as our church family. I really appreciated hearing from everyone who got up and spoke. I wanted to say something, but I know I would just stand there and cry. I have a difficult time speaking in front of people even when I’m not an emotional wreck. I can write it much easier.

I especially liked what Joel’s neighbor had to say. I forget his name, but he was very close to Joel. They’ve spent a lot of time together talking about God and everything. This neighbor is a preacher! I don’t know where… but he had such a good point… this isn’t about Joel, or us… it’s about Jesus Christ and how he was able to use Joel to reach so many people. Joel allowed himself to be a vessel for God to carry on His work. He also gave us a reminder that what he so selflessly did for Joey… Jesus did for us too… He died so that we MAY LIVE. We can be joyful and praise God for that.

A coworker reminded us that we WILL see that famous smile of his again someday in the clouds of glory!

Eva (his wife)  did not come to the prayer meeting last night (of course), but she had told a friend to convey to us, that she can feel our prayers! She want’s us all to know that she will be okay. She said she doesn’t know how… but that she feels an overwhelming sense that she and the kids will be alright. She feels it’s due to all the prayers over them. Keep them up!

I can hardly type it. I just weep for her.

God is big. He can do anything, and although we do not know for sure what has happened to Joel yet… we know that God is in charge, and his will will be done here. God can be glorified even in this tragedy. It’s hard to see how… and we may never know the total ripple effect of Joel’s heroism or even his life while we are down here. But some day… some day… we will know why.

Please continue to keep this family in a veil of prayer.

Here is a link to the channel 11 news that featured his story the other night. At the upper right is the video feed. You may have to wait a second for it… but it is there.

11 Alive News story on Joel

Thank you for sending love and prayers to this family.



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