Man swept away by giant wave after asking for permission to marr - CBS46 News

Man swept away by giant wave after asking for permission to marry girlfriend

Posted: Updated:
Jonathan Brussow (right) and Athena Williams (Source: Family Photo via WXMI, CNN) Jonathan Brussow (right) and Athena Williams (Source: Family Photo via WXMI, CNN)

By Ahtra Elnashar

HARBOUR ISLAND, Bahamas (WXMI/CNN) -- A young Michigan man died hours after he asked his girlfriend's family for permission to marry her.

Jonathan Brussow, 19, and his girlfriend, Athena Williams, 20, were vacationing in the Bahamas last Monday when a huge wave swept him away. The night before the 19-year-old's tragic death, he sat down with Williams' family to ask them a question that would change their lives forever.

“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 FOX 17. 

Before the sun rose that next morning, Brussow went on a hike with Williams' brother, Eric, and again brought up his plans.

While the two were walking, a huge wave swept the young men into the water. Eric was able to grab onto a rock and get himself to shore. He had broken ribs and deeps cut, but still ran a mile to get help for Brussow before being transported to the hospital.

At 11 a.m., Williams got a message that her boyfriend wasn't with Eric.

“That’s pretty much when we knew that Jonathan was gone but we did not give up hope," Williams said. "We called every number possible. We called the embassy, the Nassau Coast Guard, the U.S. Coast Guard, the local police enforcement. We did not stop making calls.”

Brussow's parents immediately flew to the island. Williams said with help from locals, they searched for Brussow for days. There was a tropical storm that hit the island, making their search difficult. Still, she persisted.

Days later, Brussow's body was found. Though her boyfriend is gone, Williams said his memory will live on.

“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.”

She said her family is now focusing on returning the help that was given to them by local Bahamians.

The Williams and Brussow families are raising money to install a safety device on the Glass Window Bridge, near where Brussow entered the water. Williams said this effort is especially important to Eric.

If you'd like to contribute to the families' GoFundMe page, visit

™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.