Pastor Drowns Saving Adopted Sons

The Baileys in 2004.
The Baileys in 2004.

Last year, we introduced you to a family who took in four foster children and adopted them. Last week, tragedy struck.

The father was once a pastor in Effingham County, saving souls. But trying to save his sons' lives cost him his own.

Rev. Tim Bailey and his wife rescued four foster kids once and gave them a good home. Fate had other plans, and now the people he served in faith are reaching out to his family.

The Baileys just wanted to give three little boys, victims of abuse, a chance. "There is no reason we can't share the blessings we have with kids who are hurting," Tim told us in the 2004 interview.

Five years ago, Tim and his wife, Haven, adopted all three brothers, ages 6, 8, and 9.

"To watch them grow, it truly is a blessing for us," said Bailey last year.

"They finally had a life," said Al Hunter of Elam Egypt Baptist Church. "They were stable. They finally had a home."

The kids called Al and Mary Hunter their adopted grandparents. Al has the certificate to show it. "Tim was like a son to me," he said.

Thursday night, Al lost a son, Haven lost her husband, and the kids lost their father and their stability. It all started with a day of swimming in the river off Ware Shoals in South Carolina.

"One of the kids, the youngest boy, fell into 10 feet of deep water," Al told us. "The second son reached for the first one, and he fell in. Tim, without hesitation, jumped in with the boys."

Al says Tim put the boys on his shoulders, and two men pulled them to safety. But Tim didn't make it out of the water. A whirlpool sucked him under.

"It was about 20 minutes, half an hour before they found him again," Al said.

Within an hour, news of Tim's death made its way from South Carolina to his old church in Egypt, Georgia. "People were devastated, just sobbing on the phone," said Al.

And their hearts and prayers were with Haven and the kids. Just when their life was getting easier, tragedy twisted it up again.

Al doesn't want the boys to blame themselves. "If God said it was Tim's time, it was his time. It was not the kids' fault. They were just part of the situation."

Life isn't always easy. For Rev. Tim Bailey, loving these boys was.

"But you know, the rewards of having that kid come up and give you a kiss-they come up and kiss you out of the blue--is the greatest reward," Tim told us last year.

Tim Baily was pastor at Elam Egypt Baptist Church for five years before moving this past January to South Carolina. Tim was laid to rest Sunday morning.

His new church has set up a trust fund for his children. You can contribute at:

Bailey Children's Scholarship Fund, c/o First Citizens Bank, 808 N. Greenwood Avenue, Ware Shoals, SC 29692

You can learn more online at:

Al Hunter says Elam Egypt Church will also be setting up a love offering for Tim's family.

Reported by: Don Logana,