Phoenix CrossFit coach’s memory honored after saving wife’s life

Damian Walker, 33, died after saving his wife from drowning during a family trip to Puerto Rico.
Published: Mar. 19, 2023 at 9:36 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - A beloved Phoenix CrossFit coach is now a hero in the hearts of the many he inspired to reach their goals. Damian Walker, 33, died after saving his wife from drowning during a family trip to Puerto Rico.

Coach Walker had a big personality you could not miss. “He was a jokester. He loved to laugh. He loved to dance. He loved superheroes like Marvel and anime,” said Tiffany Divelbiss, owner of Wildfire CrossFit. Walker first stepped inside Wildfire CrossFit 10 years ago when the gym opened up. He signed up as a member and quickly turned into a coach. Owners Tiffany and Skip Divelbiss said Walker lived life to the fullest. “He always just wanted people to succeed and for them to be their best and have fun with it. And that’s the energy he always brought,” said Skip.

Tiffany said Walker and his family were scattering his grandfather’s ashes in the ocean in Puerto Rico on March 3 when suddenly, a rip current swept away Walker’s wife. “Damian jumped in, as he 100% lived his life with that hero mentality, ‘I’m just gonna go in and save them’,” said Tiffany.

Walker’s father also went in after him, but both drowned. The body of Walker’s father has still not been recovered. “He would be proud of the way things happened. He always wanted to be a superhero, and in the end, that’s the way it ended up,” said Skip. “To have him and that personality ripped away, there’s been a huge hole in everybody’s hearts,” said Tiffany. So to honor their hero, Wildfire CrossFit created a ‘hero workout’ with all of Walker’s favorite moves.

On April 2, the day he turned 34, the gym will host a celebration of life where all athletes will crush the workout just like Walker would’ve. “That’s the cool legacy, inspiration that we’re all holding onto to be able to heal through this heartbreak,” said Tiffany.

Tiffany and Skip say former members have been returning to the gym as a way to honor Walker. Other athletes across the nation have also completed the hero workout. The gym is also trying to help Walker’s family with funeral expenses. If you would like to help, you can find the GoFundMe page here.