VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Erik Mezick, husband and father of two teens, died surrounded by something he loved so much - the water.
"It was sad to see him pass in a drowning being such a strong swimmer," said Kevin Mezick, Erik's brother.
Mezick, age 47, died in December 2020. The box truck he was driving on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel towards Virginia Beach when he hit the guard rail, overturned and died plunging into 38 degree water.
Once the water warmed up, Erik came to the surface in April of this year, nearly four months later, 166 miles south between Avon and Salvo on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. He was found by a resident taking a beach walk.
"Erik touched people in a special way," said Coach Mike Lahey, coach of the Delmarva Dogfish.
His fellow swimmers at the YMCA in Maryland, where he hit the pool every day, called him a beast at the butterfly stroke.
"He would swim off and on with the team, and he loved to heckle the swimmers when he did laps beside them," said Lahey.
The Delmarva Dogfish team practices at the YMCA in Salisbury, Maryland. Erik did train there, and on July 31, they'll honor Erik by taking him to the same waters in which he died.
"They came to me several months and said they wanted to do this, and I thought, 'Whoa, the Bay is 18 miles,'" said Kevin Mezick.
Twenty-four swimmers ages 25 to 70 will swim the length of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel from Cape Charles to First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach, passing by the very spot Erik lost his life, where they will hold a water memorial.
"Everyone looks at this as a tribute to Erik, "said Lahey. "He loved water so much, and there is excitement around the money we are raising and attention we are bringing to family."
So far, the Erik Mezick Memorial Swimhas raised about $1,110. The goal is to raise around $10,000 by sponsoring swimmers. Money raised will go to Erik's wife and children.
"This is a tragedy that happened but a lot of good is coming out of it, and we are bringing people together to honor him," said Mezick.