A 45-year-old Kentucky man drowned Sunday while trying to save a relative from strong currents, Isle of Palms Fire Chief Ann Graham said.

First responders pulled John Palmer, of Lexington, from the water and took him to East Cooper Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Charleston County Deputy Coroner Kelly Kraus said.

Graham said Palmer was trying to save his 17-year-old relative, who eventually made it out of the ocean on his own.

Graham said her crew did everything they could to save Palmer, who was caught in the rough surf at 12:39 p.m. off 51st Avenue.

One of the firefighters who responded on a jet ski hauling a sled had to be taken to the hospital because he grabbed on to the unconscious man and went into the rough surf with him. The rescuer had refused to let go.

“He went to grab him and when the man went down he went down with him,” Graham said

Graham said it can be difficult lifting a person onto a sled, and especially difficult lifting an unconscious person. The firefighter eventually was released from the hospital.

“We feel for the family,” she said. “But they did everything they could to save him.”