The sister of a Louisiana man who died last week during an underwater marriage proposal in Tanzania said Monday that relatives are wondering just how he died.
Steven Weber Jr. of Baton Rouge was making an unforgettable marriage proposal to his girlfriend, Kenesha Antoine, said Weber’s sister Mandy Hoffman, when he swam in front of the windows of an underwater hotel room looking out into the turquoise blue waters.
A video posted by Antoine shows the 40-year-old Weber swimming outside the underwater room holding a handwritten proposal note.
“I can’t hold my breath long enough to tell you everything I love about you,” said the handwritten note encased in a plastic bag. Then Webber flipped it over to the other side, which asked “Will you please be my wife?” and pulled out a jewelry box from his swim trunks. He opened it to reveal a ring before swimming out of view of the video.
Speaking with The Associated Press, Hoffman said that when Antoine went to deck level of the structure, which is anchored to the seafloor by cables, Weber never surfaced.
“You never emerged from those depths, so you never got to hear my answer, “Yes! Yes! A million times, yes, I will marry you!!,” Antoine had written earlier on Facebook . “We never got to embrace and celebrate the beginning of the rest of our lives together, as the best day of our lives turned into the worst, in the cruelest twist of fate imaginable.”
Hoffman said Antoine tried to seek help, but was unable to reach resort personnel by phone or radio and eventually flagged down a passing boater. She said the boater found Weber and tried unsuccessfully to revive him.
Hoffman said Tanzanian authorities informed her by email Monday that they had conducted an autopsy, but didn’t immediately provide a cause of death. The sister said in the telephone interview with AP that Weber had been snorkeling multiple times and was a strong swimmer.
“This is all we keep talking about,” she said. “Something other happened besides him running out of breath.”
Hoffman said the couple met through a mutual friend and had traveled widely during their relationship. She said Weber and Antoine had been in Africa for more than a week, and had also gone on a safari.
“He loves her so much,” Hoffman said. “I know he wanted this to be an over-the-top experience for her.”
A State Department official confirmed the death of a U.S. citizen in Tanzania but declined to comment further.
The Manta Resort confirmed to NBC in a statement that a male guest drowned while freediving alone outside the underwater room on Thursday.
“Our sincerest condolences, thoughts and prayers are with his girlfriend, families and friends impacted by this tragic accident,” resort CEO Matthew Saus said in the statement.
The resort didn’t immediately respond Monday to AP’s emailed inquiries.