Black Sunday revisited

Published: Friday, June 7, 2013 at 12:53 PM.

It's been 10 years since Mike Hauser pulled a lifeless body from the waters near Grayton Beach, but he still remembers the events of that day knocking him to his knees.

"Looking back, it's all kind of in slow motion," Hauser said. "It was the first time I've seen, or touched, a dead body. Everything happened so quickly."

It was June 8, 2003, and Hauser was out surfing with some of his buddies near Grayton Beach. After exiting the water for what he thought would be the last time that day, sirens began to ring out and Hauser immediately returned to the beach fearing one of his buddies was in trouble.

Little did he know, the actions he was about to take would involve him in one of the biggest tragedies to ever occur along the beaches of Walton and Okaloosa County — Black Sunday. All told, eight people lost their lives due to drowning or injuries sustained due to rough surf on that day.

Black Sunday

"Everybody was crowded around on the beach, there were hundreds of people just standing there," said Hauser, who is now 29 years old. "There was a guy laying face down in the water, so what do you do? It was like it wasn't happening, and it was in a movie picture frame."

"Somebody had to do something," he said, adding that there were two deputies in the water trying to recover the bodies of former CNN correspondent Larry LaMotte and Ken Brindley, who drowned trying to rescue LaMotte. "I kind of took it upon myself. The helicopter was telling us to stay out of the water, but it's a good thing we didn't. Maybe we helped save those two officers' lives."



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