Seminary student on honeymoon drowns during first ocean swim

An Iowa seminary student honeymooning in Florida drowned when he was swept out to sea on his first time in the ocean, officials said. St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office says Dalton Cottrell, 22, of Malcom, Iowa, drowned while swimming Tuesday at Crescent Beach, south of Jacksonville, CBS affiliate WJAX-TV reports.

A beach-goer heard screaming from the water and grabbed a paddleboard, joining a lifeguard who went to the rescue. The report says they found Cottrell and brought him back to shore but he died.

Chloe Molinaro was on the beach Tuesday with her friends as rescuers tried to save Cottrell’s life, WJAX reported. “So many people were hovering over,” she said. “They knew it wasn’t going to turn out well.”

Cottrell’s wife, Cheyenne Hedrick, told St. Johns County sheriff’s deputies it was his first time in the ocean. She said the current pulled them out and “he started to freak out.” She told deputies she tried to help, but he was struggling and pulled her underwater. The two had been married for three days.

WJAX-TV spoke to Hedrick over the phone but she was too emotional to speak. On Facebook, she wrote: “Never did I think at 22 would I be a wife and then a widow so quickly. Please pray for I and all families.”

Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary in Ankeny, Iowa, said in a statement that the couple were seniors at the school and had married Saturday in Kansas City, Missouri. Cottrell was training to be a pastor, the school said.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to cover Cottrell’s funeral costs.

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