Michigan man swept away by wave hours after he asked for permission to marry girlfriend

HARBOUR ISLANDS, Bahamas – A Michigan man had just asked for permission to marry his high school sweetheart when he died after being swept away by a large wave in the Bahamas.

Jonathan Brussow, 19, and Athena Williams, 20, first met during a bonfire when they were in the eighth grade. In the ninth grade, they started riding together on the same school bus, and love blossomed from there. Brussow is from Rockford in Michigan’s Kent County, according to WXMI.

Last week, Brussow traveled with Williams’ family for a vacation to the Bahamas. He sat down with the family after Williams went to bed and asked her family if he could have permission to marry her.

Before the sun rose the next morning, he went with Williams’ brother, Eric, on a hike up a tall cliff and also asked him if it was OK for him to marry Athena.

“When we started dating he always told me, he said, ‘Since the first time I saw you, I knew I was gonna marry you,'" Williams told WXMI. “We had everything planned out already. He had our whole wedding planned out, too and we weren’t even engaged or anything.”

While on the hike, a large wave swept both Brussow and Williams’ brother into the water. Eric Williams managed to grab onto a rock and get to shore; despite broken ribs and other injuries, he ran a mile to find help for Brussow.

“It’s Jonathan. Jonathan Brussow. If there’s anybody who could get out of a situation like this, it’s Jonathan," Williams said. “But the odds were absolutely against him. There was just no way he could have made it.”

A large search followed, but Brussow didn’t make it. His body was found days later.

“He absolutely loved his life. He had no regrets. He had no complaints," Williams said. “I’ve never, ever experienced or seen anybody love somebody so genuinely like he actually loved me. It just blows me away, the person he was. The person he still is.”

Williams, her family and Brussow’s family are thankful for the help they received during the search in the Bahamas. They’re raising money for the installation of a safety device near the area where Brussow went into the water. They’re also hoping to buy some much-needed equipment for the area hospital.