Very unexpectedly Janelle Orchid has had to think about what to tell her children about their father, Shaun, who lost the life he'd built with his young family while spending time on something else he loved -- fishing.
"I always want them to know how much he loved them and they were always his first priority over anything," she said.
Everything changed when she called back a strange number that kept popping up in her caller ID on Tuesday.
"It was the hospital and they said, 'Your husband is here and we need you to come down,'" she said.
Even with that call, Orchid expected to be celebrating her seventh anniversary with her husband in two weeks. Instead, she's beginning to learn about how the man she met in 2007 extended himself to people she didn't even know, people who are now mourning along with her.
"One guy reached out to me and says, 'Today I'm 131 days sober and I couldn't have made it without Shaun,'" Orchid said.
Shaun Orchid posted a picture of his afternoon fishing trip to Instagram just 10 minutes before it's believed he lost his footing near Sailor Bar on the American River.
He drowned as the waders he used when bank fishing for shad filled with water.
"In high school he held the butterfly record for years. He was a great swimmer. So to think that he would die of drowning is nothing that anyone could ever imagine," Orchid said.
"I was just so shocked and devastated," said Shaun's father-in-law, Daniel Ash.
Ash shared Shaun Orchid's love of fishing, doing catch and release at Sailor Bar and other spots across the state for years. The thought of his own waders betraying him was top of mind Thursday.
"When we were in areas like that a lot of times we would take a belt around the top of the waders and cinch it up tight, so if we fell in it would take a little while for the water to get inside so you could stand back up," Ask said. "I don't see people doing that."
Now in their grief, they just want other fishermen to be safe. That means taking a friend when they go out and possibly wearing a life jacket. They don't want any more little ones like the couple's children, Jase and Kallie, to be left behind.
"I will always just tell them and remind them how much he loved them," Orchid said.
Shaun Orchid worked his cleaning business, Sac City Restoration, around his wife's full-time job as an accountant so he could be a stay-at-home dad. It was a one-man operation, so the family will now have to shut it down.
A GoFundMe page has been created to help Janelle Orchid bury her husband and provide for her children without that business revenue.
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