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MURRAY — Capt. Andy Walkingshaw, a veteran of the Murray Fire Department, died Sunday after suffering a medical condition while snorkeling in Hawaii, officials said.
On Monday, Walkingshaw's fellow firefighters lowered the flag at Murray Fire Station No. 82 to half-staff in his honor.
Though his friends and colleagues are trying to comes to terms with how he died, they reflected Monday on how he lived.
Even as a child, Walkingshaw wanted to be a firefighter.
"When he was a young kid, he would come to all the functions and parties," said Murray Fire Chief Gil Rodriguez. "We knew Andy long before we hired him."
Rodriguez said he enjoyed watching Walkingshaw grow in the department and serve those around him with humility.
"Andy single-handedly saved a lot of houses and never really wanted to talk about it, but those are the kinds of things he did," the fire chief said.
Walkingshaw also worked part time with the Lone Peak Fire Department and as a paramedic at South Davis Community Hospital.
"A lot of people just refer to him as a gentle giant," Murray Mayor Ted Eyre said. "He was a real tall man, but he just had a heart of gold and compassion, not only for his work, but all those around him."
Friends said Walkingshaw had been looking forward to the Hawaii vacation, celebrating 25 years of marriage with his high school sweetheart, Mindy.
"He loved his wife," said neighbor and close friend Misse Betts. "She was the world to him."
Investigators say Walkingshaw started having breathing difficulties as he snorkeled at Shark's Cove off the island of Oahu. Bystanders pulled him from the water, but he died a short time later.
Close friends, including KSL photographer Eric Betts, say the father of four loved his job, but he cherished his role as a father.
"He would go fishing with his son," Eric Betts said. "I remember him dancing on the stage with his daughters."
Walkingshaw's only son is a Murray fire cadet, and like his dad, he wants to help others.
"This has been a loss for the entire neighborhood and the entire community," Misse Betts said.
Donations to the Andy Walkingshaw Memorial Fund can be made through America First Credit Union or online at www.andywalkingshaw.com.