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FBI agent drowns trying to save swimmer in Puerto Rico

By Carol Cratty, CNN
December 31, 2011 -- Updated 0223 GMT (1023 HKT)
Special Agent Daniel Knapp, 43, had been with the FBI for six years and was based in San Juan.
Special Agent Daniel Knapp, 43, had been with the FBI for six years and was based in San Juan.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Special Agent Daniel Knapp drowned helping a struggling swimmer
  • He reached the 18-year-old and was assisting him, but was overcome by waves
  • A police boat reached the swimmer and he was pulled to safety
  • Knapp "exemplified each of the ideals of the FBI," field office chief says

Washington (CNN) -- An FBI agent drowned Thursday in Puerto Rico while trying to save a swimmer, the FBI announced Friday.

Special Agent Daniel Knapp was off duty and at the beach when friends of a struggling swimmer asked for help. Knapp put on his swim fins and went into the water off Playa Escondida -- Spanish for Hidden Beach -- in Fajardo, Puerto Rico.

Knapp reached the 18-year-old swimmer and was assisting him, but was overcome by waves, FBI spokesman Harry Rodriguez said. A police boat reached the swimmer and he was pulled to safety.

"Special Agent Knapp exemplified each of the ideals of the FBI, as well as possessing those traits which define a genuine wonderful person," said Joseph Campbell, the head of the FBI's Puerto Rico Field Office. "He died a hero, saving another life."

Knapp, 43, had been with the FBI for six years and was based in San Juan. The FBI says he received the 2011 FBI Director's Award for Outstanding Criminal Investigation and the 2011 Attorney General's Award for Excellence in Law Enforcement.

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