‘A stand-up child’: Heartbroken parents mourn loss of man who died swimming in Beaver County creek

BEAVER COUNTY, Pa. — Zaire Ellis’ parents say he was with a group of friends when he tried to swim across the Connoquenessing Creek Thursday night. Friday afternoon, divers found his body. Now, his family is remembering the accomplished old soul who never met a stranger.

>> Man, 21, found dead in Connoquenessing Creek

Brandi Ellis and Anthony Price say their son, Zaire Ellis wasn’t your typical 21-year-old.

“Everybody wanted to know Zaire. He was just phenomenal. He was my angel on earth,” Ellis said.

“Just the way he carried himself, he’s a stand-up child. I never had to worry about him getting mixed up in the wrong crowd, never had to worry about if he was doing the wrong thing,” said Price.

Zaire grew up in Aliquippa and graduated high school from Ambridge. From there, Zaire graduated from Pittsburgh Technical College with an HVAC degree and got a job in his field that he was excited about.

Thursday, Ellis says her son told her that he was going swimming with some friends. She thought it was at an area pool with lifeguards, as Zaire wasn’t the strongest swimmer.

“Him going to that creek, he would’ve never told me that because I would’ve never let him went,” Ellis said.

Zaire’s parents say when he tried to cross the creek, he got to a deep spot where he was undertaken by the water. Those who were with him reportedly tried jumping in to save him.

“By the time he got where Zaire was at, he couldn’t find him and by that time it was too late because he disappeared and there was nothing that anybody could do,” Price said.

Marion Township Police and first responders searched the creek near the Veka Plant from 9 p.m. Thursday to 2 a.m. before picking efforts back up when a state police underwater drone found Zaire’s body Friday afternoon.

The loss is palpable for everyone, including his three brothers. Ellis says while he’s not here physically, she knows Zaire is with her.

“I’m very spiritual and he’s shown me signs. I know he’s OK. I just miss him,” she said.

The family has put together a GoFundMe to help with expenses. Click here to donate.

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