Three days was all that Dalton Cottrell and Cheyenne Pernice-Hedrick could spend with each other as husband and wife. The newlyweds were sharing blissful moments with each other in Florida before their honeymoon turned into a nightmare that one of them would never wake up from.
Dalton had just turned 22 a couple of days before his marriage, according to a GoFundMe page set up by Robin Schneider on behalf of Cheyenne. On their wedding day, family and friends celebrated their love for each other as the couple exchanged vows, wishing them a blissful future together. The page said, “On July 27, 2019, we got to witness the 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.”
Days after the wedding, the shore of St. Augustine in Florida was where they were on July 30, 2019, when an overpowering riptide swept the couple away. It was the first time that Dalton was in the ocean and Cheyenne told deputies that he “started to freak out”, as reported by NBC News.
She tried to help him but couldn’t. “Cheyenne advised he began to struggle and she attempted to assist him but was unable to help due to him pulling her under,” the police said in a statement, as reported by kcrg.com. His screams in the ocean could even be heard by a surfer nearby, who went and alerted the lifeguard. Once Dalton was rescued, he was taken to a hospital, but it was too late.
Life drastically changed within moments for Cheyenne who had to arrange for a funeral for the man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. “3 days of wedded bliss turned into a nightmare very quickly for the Cottrell family as well as mine own,” Cheyenne wrote on Facebook.
“…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.”
“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,” the GoFundMe page read. “Our hearts are so broken for Cheyenne and all family members involved.”
Both Dalton and Cheyenne were students at the Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary in Ankeny, Iowa and Dalton was studying to become a pastor.
“He was a very good student. He was inquisitive, so he was the kind of guy in my classes where he was asking good questions and he really wants to understand the Bible,” said Andy Stearns, who had taught Dalton.
Daniel Vance, who’s been the couple’s pastor, said, “It was devastating. Just so sad to hear a couple that we love, in a moment of such tenderness, just having that loss,” according to WHO-TV.
Weeks after losing her husband, Cheyenne wrote, “I weep with the Willow as I remember your beautiful soul. I droop my shoulders as the Willow for you are no longer physically by my side. But I am strong, sturdy, and alive like this Willow because my God is my portion therefore I have hope!”
To have imagined spending the rest of your life with one person and then suddenly, out of what feels like nowhere, to lose them forever can be devastating.
Cheyenne wrote, “I loved you then, I love you now, and forever will I love you.”