BAY VILLAGE, Ohio – More than a week after her husband died a hero, a Medina woman is thanking the community while calling for a change at the beach where Pete Radke died.
“Pete’s life still gives me strength, every minute that I wanna crawl under a rock, I know he wouldn’t want me to,” said Michelle Radke, who now wears her husband’s wedding ring on a chain around her neck.
The pain of the past week has been overwhelming, said Michelle, who is left to raise their four children. “He would want me to stand strong and he would want me to say it’s okay. We’re not promised 90 years on this Earth; we’re just not.”
On Saturday, May 31, Pete died a hero. He jumped in the water at the Metroparks Huntington Beach in Bay Village to save a 16-year-old girl from Georgia who needed help. She survived but Pete didn’t make it back to land.
“I think what happened was he shoved her out of the current that they were in,” said Pete’s daughter, Hannah. “I think she was in a current and that’s why she got too far out and I think my dad got out of the current first, but I think he got pulled back in because he was coming forward after he pushed her. He was coming back in but I think he got pulled back out from a current.”
The Radkes' oldest daughter, Hannah, was at the beach to celebrate her sister, Brynn’s, birthday. Along with their two younger brothers, Owen and Isaac, all four kids know their dad is a hero but they also have a proclamation from Governor John Kasich to back it up.
The Radke family is also working to keep anyone else from dealing with a similar tragedy. They’d like some kind of warning installed at the beach where a lifeguard wasn’t on duty that day because it was too early in the season.
“I’m not sure what that looks like,” said Michelle Radke. “I’m open to ideas of what would help people know that it’s dangerous, whether it be signs.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Metroparks said: "We continue to extend our deepest sympathies to the members of the Radke family. We are very sorry Mr. Radke lost his life attempting to save a young swimmer from drowning on May 31. Cleveland Metroparks has year-round signage that indicates when the beach is guarded. We know Mr. Radke’s death is being felt deeply by his family, his friends and the community and we are very sorry for their loss.”
Michelle Radke doesn’t blame the Metroparks or the teenage girl who was rescued by Pete. They’re far too faithful and they know Pete wouldn’t want it that way.
“It’s okay. It didn’t work out the way we wanted it at all, but it’s okay; it will be okay,” said Michelle.
Peter supported the family and a fund has been established online HERE or through any Fifth Third Bank.
On Thursday, June 19, all local Bob Evans Restaurants will donate a portion of their sales to the Pete Radke Fund.
Diners must bring the attached flier for the contribution to be made.