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Dream vacation turns into unthinkable nightmare for family


By Tori Cooper

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    MCDONOUGH, Georgia (WGCL) — What was supposed to be a relaxing vacation to one of Florida’s most popular beaches, turned into a nightmare that has forever changed one Atlanta family.

A rip tide, in the Gulf of Mexico, took hold of Enrique Cortez-Dubon and pulled him out to sea. On Tuesday, his body resurfaced on a Panama City beach.

The owner of Leo’s Cafe in Mcdonough, where the Cortez-Dubon family lives and works, says he was the one to pick up the family from Panama Beach Tuesday night. He said the six hour drive home was full of emotion.

Mandy Whisnant owns the athletic equipment business next door to Leo’s Cafe, and knows the Cortez-Dubon family well. She says she hasn’t been able to sleep for two days.

“He was such a happy boy,” Whisnant said.

The family closed the restaurant for the 4th of July holiday to go on this beach vacation together.

“The picture of him with his little fins on he was just so excited,” Whisnant said. “You can just tell he was so excited to go play at the beach.”

That picture Whisnant referred to, was taken just moments into the family’s first day on the beach. What she said happened next, was what led to the tragedy.

“Enrique and his sister, I believe, went down to the water [while] the family was setting up, and he didn’t have on any floaties from what I understand,” Whisnant said. “The current was pretty strong and his sister came back up, and unfortunately, I think, the current pulled Enrique under.”

A frantic search ensued for Enrique, but he couldn’t be found. 24 hours later, his body washed up on shore.

“Now they’re coming back [to Mcdonough] without their most prized piece of luggage not with them,” Whisnant said.

If you would like to provide financial support to the Cortez-Dubon family, an official fundraising page has been setup through PayPal.

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