He loved to go fishing with his family. Calvin Harris Sr. enjoyed sitting on a dock and casting his line, waiting for a bite, his daughter said.
But there was one thing missing: A boat. Harris decided to change that, buying a small boat to put in a Jackson County lake that the family often visited, traveling from their Clayton County home.
“My daddy was so happy,” Tymeisha Harris told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “All he used to talk about was getting a boat.”
On Sunday afternoon, Harris and his son, Calvin Harris Jr. took their first and only fishing trip in the boat. As the boat began to shake and then started sinking, both men ended up in the frigid water. They tried helplessly to save themselves, but drowned, Tymeisha Harris said.
“I still don’t understand,” Harris said late Wednesday. “I just feel like it’s so unfair. They are two great men who loved their families.”
Her mother, Vicky Harris, had initially gotten on the boat, too, Tymeisha said. But when the boat started to shake, Vicky decided she wanted out.
When her husband got a bite on his line, Vicky Harris watched helplessly as the boat shook again, tossing Calvin Sr. into the water, Tymeisha said. The 55-year-old man was able to grab hold of the side of the boat.
But then, the rear of the boat, where Calvin Jr. was seated, began to sink. The 32-year-old then jumped in the water.
“They both knew how to swim,” Tymeisha said.
With both her husband and son in the water, Vicky Harris yelled for them to help each other to safety.
“Please don’t let our son die! Please save our baby!” she yelled to her husband.
Vicky Harris watched as the two appeared to swirl in the water, arms flailing and unable to stay above the surface, Tymeisha said. Then, both were gone.
“My husband let go of the boat and tried to save his son,” Vicky Harris posted on a GoFundMe page. “He pushes his son up and then he went under. And my son went shortly after. And they both never came back up.”
Vicky didn’t get into the water because she doesn’t swim, so she called for help. Her son and then her husband were both pulled from the water by a dive team, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Despite life-saving measures, neither man could be revived.
“Their bodies went into shock because the water was so cold,” Tymeisha said.
Now, the family is preparing to say goodbye to the father-son duo who died together.
“It hurts so bad,” she said.
In addition to his wife and daughter, Calvin Sr. is survived by another son and several other relatives. Calvin Jr. was the father of 14 kids, ranging in age from 3 weeks to 13 years, his sister said.
On Friday night, a balloon release is planned near the family’s Rex home. The funeral will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at Springfield Missionary Baptist Church, 1730 Hollywood Rd NW, Atlanta. Those attending the funeral are asked to wear Atlanta Falcons jerseys or the team’s colors. Both her father and brother loved watching Falcons games, Tymeisha said.
“I’m not ready for Saturday,” she said. “I’m really not.”