Ex-Hawks player and NBA All-Star Dan Roundfield drowned while swimming off Aruba on Monday, Aug. 6, 2012. (Getty Images)
WXIA EXCLUSIVE -- It was an international shocker, a former Atlanta Hawks player and NBA star Dan Roundfield drowned while saving his wife.
They were vacationing with their two young grandchildren this past summer. Now, in an exclusive interview with 11Alive's Brenda Wood, his widow, 'Bernie' speaks for the first time publicly about the details of what happened that day and how she's coping now.
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It was a trip they'd planned for a whole year, to the Caribbean island of Aruba. It was a vacation spot they'd been to 18 times before.
Baby Beach is a man-made lagoon on the southeastern end of the island known for its calm bathtub-like water.
But two days into their dream vacation a nightmare unfolded. Danny was in shallow water and Bernie was on a float.
Bernie says, "The water was calm. I was drifting a little bit further from Danny. Danny said, 'Bernie start paddling towards me'. I said, OK. As I start paddling it's like in that split second the water changed... and when the water changed the water just got rough and I just kept drifting further from him... he came to get me, he was walking to get me... as the wave came up over me... when it went down I didn't see him anymore."
A woman nearby came to help, brought Bernie to shore and then went back into the water to find Danny. They found Danny's body in a reef. The tragedy made international and national news including here in Atlanta.
Danny Roundfield retired in 1988. They built a beautiful life together, settling in Atlanta raising two sons, traveling, spending as much time as possible with their grandkids.
Her pictures from the vacation are still in her camera. She's not sure she'll ever develop them.