Drowned Fernandina Beach swimmer identified

FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. – Officials have identified the body of the woman who drowned at Fernandina Beach Friday.

Dianne E. Hardenbergh, 51, was swimming with three friends Friday night when she went missing, according to the Fernandina Beach Police Department.

"We all miss her so much," said Hardenbergh's fiance, Timothy Robinson as he fought back tears. Robinson planned on marrying her a year from August.

"She was a ball of sunshine," Robinson said as he described her personality. Robinson said she was a church goer, regularly volunteered and even tutored children at a local school during the week. She owned a home business as an authorized DirecTV retailer, according to Robinson. He said she had a knack for sales.

FBPD and Fernandina Beach Fire Rescue were notified around 9:45 p.m. that Hardenbergh was in distress on the north end of the beach.

Robsinson said they went to the beach Friday evening. According to a Fernandina Beach police incident report, they went to beach access 11.

"The sea was exceptionally calm. I mean, Gulf of Mexico calm," Robinson said.

According to witnesses, Hardenbergh was further out in the water than the rest of her friends and appeared to be struggling. Efforts to rescue her failed.

Robinson said Dianne was a strong swimmer. He said he and others tried to save her.

"She's fearless. She's out swimming, a few feet away. I think there must've been some type of current," He said. "The tide was going out. Kept carrying her a little further. I said c'mon back in."

A search began immediately by Nassau County Sheriff's Office Marine Unit, the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department Marine Unit and the United States Coast Guard.

At approximately 11:00 a.m Saturday., a fisherman spotted Hardenbergh's body at the north end of Fernandina Beach near the Jetties. NCSO Marine Unit and FBPD recovered Hardenbergh's body shortly after.

The autopsy determined the cause of death was drowning with no foul play.

"We all love you, Dianne. She's in a peaceful place. We know that," Robsinson said.

The city's website said rip currents account for over 80% of rescues.

If you are caught in a rip current, stay calm, don't fight the current, and swim to shore or float or tread water.

Robinson's hoping this tragedy might help someone else

"It was twilight. Maybe just be more cautious. Stay, don't go over your waist. Stay focused an be aware."

For more information about rip currents from the National Weather Service, click here.


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