Iowa newlywed, 22, drowns on honeymoon during first-ever time in ocean, just 3 days after wedding

Alex Lasker

A 22-year-old Iowa man tragically drowned Tuesday during his Florida honeymoon, just three days after he and his bride said, "I do."

Newlyweds Dalton and Cheyenne Cottrell, who wed in Missouri on July 27, were visiting Crescent Beach in St. Augustine when the two went for a swim in the Atlantic, in what marked Dalton's first-ever time in the ocean, NBC News reports.

The pair was carried out into the ocean by a strong current when Dalton began to "freak out," Cheyenne told deputies with the St. John's County Sheriff's Office.

Cheyenne said she tried to help her struggling husband but added that in his panicked state, he kept dragging her under the swell with him. Eventually, Dalton slipped below the surface and remained underwater for about a minute before help arrived, his wife told police.   

A beachgoer who witnessed the drowning told deputies he heard screams coming from the ocean and grabbed his paddleboard to help, according to the Florida-Times Union.

The good Samaritan teamed up with a St. Johns County lifeguard to bring Dalton back to shore on the board. Rescuers performed CPR on the victim, but he was declared dead at the scene.

Cheyenne took to Facebook following the tragedy to share the news with her friends.

"3 days of wedded bliss turned into a nightmare very quickly," she wrote. "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," she added. "Never did I think at 22 would I be a wife and then a widow so quickly."

Cheyenne and Dalton recently completed their junior years at Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary, a private Christian college and seminary in Ankeny, Iowa, where Dalton was studying to become a pastor, NBC News reports.

A statement from the school said the community was "devastated" by news of the student's death. 

"I would like to encourage Eagle Nation to pray for, love, and support both Cheyenne and Dalton’s family," school president Dr. Jim Tillotson added. "It is moments like this that Eagle Nation means the most. May we do all we can to support all of them through this difficult time."

A GoFundMe campaign to help Cheyenne cover the cost of Dalton's funeral has already surpassed its $20,000 goal. 

"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 page reads. "Please prayerfully considered giving to Cheyenne as she goes through this time of preparation to bury her brand new husband, and keep the family in your prayers."