Cheyenne Hedrick and Dalton Cottrell were on their honeymoon in Crescent Beach, Florida when tragedy occurred as Cottrell was swept out to sea and drowned on his first-ever swim in the ocean. Cottrell was just 22 years old when he died on July 30.
Hedrick detailed the horror that unfolded in a heartbreaking Facebook post that read, “3 days of wedded bliss turned into a nightmare very quickly for the Cottrell family as well as mine own. Many of you know but more of you do not; so the family and I decided to put the awful news here on Facebook though this is not where I wish to place it or even have to say it.
Yesterday afternoon while at the beach the Lord decided to call my husband Dalton to come home to Him. There is so much fear and uncertainty coursing through myself. My parents came down early this morning to be with me as I begin the next journey. Never did I think at 22 would I be a wife and then a widow so quickly. Please pray for I and all families as we grief. Right now there is no details for a funeral, but we will know more in the next several days.
I love you so much Dalton Cottrell.”
Cottrell and Hedrick had married in Kansas City, Missouri, on July 27.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Cottrell Was Pulled Back to the Shore Eventually but Was Prounenced Dead Shortly Afterward
The Florida Times-Union reports, citing the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, that Cottrell, a native of Malcom, Iowa, “started to freak out” as a dangerous rip current began to pull him out to sea. The couple had been swimming together with Hedrick telling authorities that Cottrell had been pulling her down as she tried to save him.
The statement from authorities read, “Cheyenne advised he began to struggle and she attempted to assist him but was unable to help due to him pulling her under. She advised at one point after him being under the water for approximately for a minute he came back up, and his eyes were rolled in the back of his head.”
The newspaper report says that a lifeguard and a beachgoer with a paddleboard took to the water in an effort to save Cottrell. The pair managed to bring the 22-year-old back to the beach. He was rushed to Flagler Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
2. Cottrell & Hedrick Are Both Seniors at Faith Baptist Bible College
Both Cottrell and Hedrick are seniors at Faith Baptist Bible College in Ankeny, Iowa. The school said in a statement that Cottrell had been training to become a pastor. One of Cottrell’s teachers, Andy Stearns, told NBC Iowa that the Malcom-native had been an “inquisitive” and “very good student” while also describing Cottrell as someone who really wanted to understand the bible.
Various reports described Cottrell and Hedrick as being religious. The couple’s pastor, Daniel Vance, told NBC Iowa, “It was devastating. Just so sad to hear a couple that we love, in a moment of such tenderness, just having that loss. We had a need in our children’s department, and he loved children and Cheyenne loved children. A lot of their courtship was in serving together at this church”
3. A GoFundMe Page Has Been Setup to Help to Pay for Cottrell’s Funeral Costs
A GoFundMe page dedicated to helping to pay for Cottrell’s funeral costs has raised over $23,000 of a $20,000 goal, at the time of writing. The GoFundMe page says that on July 25, five days before his death, Cottrell took Hedrick to his home in Iowa “to celebrate and prepare for the upcoming marriage.”
Their July 27 wedding is described as a “beautiful celebration of what the Lord had done in their lives, both separately and together, at their marriage ceremony. Never were there two more beautiful, deserving people, and the future was bright.” On his death, the page says that Cottrell was “overpowered by an unexpected riptide off the shore of St. Augustine, Florida.” It adds, “While we know that he is now with the Lord, Cheyenne is left in the position of now paying for a funeral 3 days after paying for a wedding.”
NBC Iowa reports that a memorial service for Cottrell was held at the Fellowship Baptist Church in Des Moines on July 31.
4. Cottrell & Hedrick Became Engaged in January 2019
According to Hedrick’s Facebook page, she and Cottrell became engaged on January 3, 2019. Also on that page, Hedrick says that she worked at a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Ankeny, Iowa and previously lived in Gladstone, Missouri. Prior to her Facebook post announcing the tragic death of her husband, Hedrick posted a photo showing her and Cottrell’s feet in the water by the beach. While previous to that, Hedrick shared a picture of the couple smiling, while walking on the beach.
Cottrell says on his Facebook page that he was a graduate of Brooklyn-Guernsey-Malcolm Jr-Sr High School in Brooklyn, Iowa and that he began studying at the Faith Baptist college in 2016. Cottrell also says that he works at a Fareway Stores. The last publicly visible posts on Cottrell’s Facebook page show him smiling with his new fiancee in engagement photos from January 2019.
5. Weather Service Reports Detail ‘Life-Threatening Rip Currents’ in the Area Where Cottrell Was Dragged Under
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report from around the time of Cottrell’s death warns of “life-threatening rip currents” that “often occur suddenly and unexpectedly, especially near piers, jetties, or sand bars.” The report adds that swimmers should swim close to lifeguards for safety.