ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Cheyenne Cottrell calls St. Augustine her happy spot; a place she vacationed each summer growing up. She said it was the perfect place for her honeymoon with her newlywed husband, Dalton Cottrell, in July.
"He had never been to the beach before," she told First Coast News on Thursday. "That was on his bucket list to one day go to the beach."
She said the condo they stayed at was one she went to since she was 6 years old.
"So, that was the time I had happy memories with my dad and my stepmom," she said.
Three days after their fairytale wedding -- and five days after Dalton Cottrell's 22nd birthday -- a trip to the very beach Cheyenne Cottrell grew up loving became the place her new husband would take his last breath.
"His face went down in the water," she said. "I swam over to him and tried to hold him up. At that point, I knew he had gone."
She says a wave knocked him over and Dalton Cottrell was struggling to resurface. They had not been out too far knowing he hadn't been in the water before.
A crowd started to gather. Cheyenne Cottrell remembers a father carrying Dalton Cottrell to shore on his surfboard.
"I just want to thank that family so much," she said. "They helped me stay calm; to try to keep my head on my shoulders during this time that was uncertain and terrifying. There were good people that were right there alongside me and really, I can't say thank you enough to these people. I will always remember them and be so grateful in my heart."
Though difficult, Cheyenne Cottrell is able to find peace in late husband's passing through her faith. She's a senior at Faith Baptist Bible College in Iowa.
Her wedding photos also give her comfort with one in particular -- she's wiping away a tear on Dalton Cottrell's face as he was reading his vows.
"I see that photo and me doing that to him and part of me wishes he was here to be able to do that to me," she said.