Man visiting for sister's wedding drowns

Robert Hickman was father of 6

Family photo of Robert Hickman
Family photo of Robert Hickman

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – A family is grieving after their loved one drowned in the ocean just hours after his sister was married Saturday.

Robert Hickman, 36, of Champaign, Illinois, was standing in the ocean near 12th Street on Atlantic Beach when he was knocked down by rough surf and didn't resurface. He was found unconscious and pulled from the surf.

Hickman was taken to the hospital, where he later died.

Hickman's sister, Teleauba Rains, told News4Jax about the moment she received the devastating phone call that her brother had drowned.

"They said it happened so fast, it was like he was drifting and it was pushing him back," Rains said. "The next thing they saw him fighting."

Family members tried to reach Hickman but the waves were too strong to help Hickman out.

During this devastating loss, Hickman’s sister said she is grateful for the last moment she had with her brother before his unexpected death.

"We had that moment when we sad goodbye," Rains said. "I laid my head on his chest thanked him for coming and getting mom and dad here that’s a blessing, that’s a blessing that I was able to be with him leading up to his death."

Jay Granberg shot a video of Hickman speaking after his Rains' wedding and uploaded it to YouTube.

"Teleauba was the only girl in the middle of four boys. She's right dab in the middle. Two above her and two under her. Just to see her grow up to be the lady she is and the mother she is and everything," said Hickman, hours before his death.

The family said Hickman did not have life insurance. They setup a GoFundMe account to help with funeral costs.

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