Marriage proposal delayed by water rescue

He was popping the big question, but then had to jump in the water to rescue boaters whose vessel had flipped over

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - One First Coast couple got an unforgettable love story this past weekend.

Andy Davidson and Sam Smart are enjoying their first July 4 weekend as a newly engaged couple.

“I’ve been waiting for this,” Smart says. “It’s been quite the story to tell.”

Davidson has been planning to propose for what seemed like forever. He proposed to Smart on Saturday.

“Saturday was going to be my best bet,” Davidson said. He said he double-checked every detail including the weather. Davidson says July 1 on the water was a beautiful night. He charted a boat to help seal the deal.

But once on the river, his plans hit some rough seas.

“My heart kind of sunk, he said. “We came upon an overturned boat. There was debris in the water. It looked like the wreck just happened.”

“I said 'oh my gosh, my proposal is going to be ruined! There is going to be bodies!' I was so nervous,” Davidson said. “We pulled up and it looked like a yard sale. Stuff was everywhere. Boat seats, life jackets, and flare boxes.”

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), the boat sank after taking on water from large waves on Saturday. Everyone escaped the boat before it went under.

The boat’s captain faces two misdemeanor charges including failure to report a boating accident and abandoning a vessel. The boat’s captain purchased the boat the day before it sank and FWC says he was not experienced.

Davidson says the quick response of Jacksonville Fire and Rescue, FWC and his charted boat captain helped keep his proposal plans on course.

“It allowed me to salvage the night and ask the big question," he said.

Did she say yes? Of course, she said.

She adds that her pictures have been getting lots of love on social media, but not without people asking about the boat.

“Everyone is like that’s a beautiful ring, but what happened to the boat?” she said.

As the years pass, Smart expects their love story to take on a life of its own.

“In 50 years, he will have rescued all five people on the ship and searched the ship wreck," Smart said. "There will be an Andy Davidson Day on July 1st for his heroic efforts on the St. Johns.”

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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