They put $4, two letters and a teaspoon of Brian's ashes in a bottle, and sent it to Destin with a friend who was traveling there. They threw the bottle into the Gulf of Mexico on Aug. 1.
DESTIN — A Texas man who dreamed of traveling the world never made it to Destin when he was alive.
But after Brian Mullins died unexpectedly of a heart attack five days after his 39th birthday, his grieving family found a way to send him on his way.
They put $4, two letters and a teaspoon of Brian's ashes in a bottle and sent it to Destin with a friend who was traveling there. They threw the bottle into the Gulf of Mexico on Aug. 1.
"This was just heavy on my heart," said his mom, Darlene Mullins, who wears her son's ashes on a necklace. "He wanted to travel. He wanted to see the world. So we set him free."
The bottle didn't make it very far, initially. Walton County Sheriff's Sgt. Paula Pendleton opened the bottle after someone found it on a South Walton County beach and turned it in to the Sheriff's Office.
“This bottle contains the ashes of my son, Brian, who suddenly and unexpectedly passed on March 9, 2019. I’m sending him on one last adventure," were the first words Pendleton read.
There was also a letter from Brian's young daughter, Peyton.
"When my father passed, I was 14 years old. It has struck our whole family pretty hard and, so far, it has been a very hard road. But, like my granny said, he loved to be free. So, that’s exactly what we are doing,” she wrote.
The notes contained emails and phone numbers to contact the family so they could know where Brian's journey took him. They also instructed the finder to call or text and then "kindly set him free once again."
Pendleton made the arrangements to send Brian on his next journey in style. She got the bottle to a charter boat captain, who promised to drop it deep into the Gulf on Friday.
She texted the family about her plans, adding, "But, before that, I want you to know he got to do a ride-a-long with a deputy before drifting out once again.”
Pendleton's kindness "really touched" the family's heart, Darlene said.
"Sgt. Pendleton was just my earth angel," she said. "I think she was just supposed to find him."