Dalton Cottrell and Cheyenne Hedrick of Iowa were honeymooning near Crescent Beach, Florida, on July 30 when they decided to take a dip in the ocean.
But “3 days of wedded bliss turned into a nightmare very quickly,” Cheyenne said in a Facebook post.
The St. John’s County Sheriff’s Office said it appears Dalton and Cheyenne, both 22, were caught in a rip current that took them nearly 100 yards out to sea.
“Cheyenne advised this was Dalton’s 1st time ever in the ocean and started to freak out,” the sheriff’s office report said. She told deputies Dalton began to struggle and when she tried to help, he tried to pull her under. Then he went underwater for more than a minute, she told deputies.
A St. Johns County lifeguard and William David Foy, a nearby paddleboarder, swam out to try and save the couple, Foy told deputies. The lifeguard placed Dalton on the paddleboard and they swam back to shore, the sheriff’s office report said.
A lifeguard attempted to perform life-saving measures once Dalton was back on shore. Dalton underwent cardiac arrest and was transported to Flagler Hospital where he was pronounced dead, the sheriff’s office said.
Rip currents are “powerful, narrow channels of fast moving water,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Rip currents can move at up to speeds of 8 feet per second, which is faster than an Olympic swimmer.
Swimmers often panic and attempt to swim back to shore against the current, fatiguing them in the process, which also increases the risk of drowning. Since is virtually impossible to swim directly against a rip current, it is recommended that you swim parallel to shore and attempt to swim back at an angle to escape it.
CNN couldn’t reach Hedrick for comment, but she told how she felt in her Facebook post:
“There is so much fear and uncertainty coursing through myself,” she said. “Never did I think at 22 would I be a wife and then a widow so quickly. … I love you so much Dalton Cottrell”
Correction: Cheyenne Hedrick’s last name was spelled incorrectly in an earlier version of this story.