Updated: Thursday, 26 Jul 2012, 7:51 PM EDT
Published : Wednesday, 25 Jul 2012, 11:00 PM EDT
BUXTON, N.C. (WAVY) - A Virginia family is mourning the loss of a pregnant woman who drowned in the Outer Banks.
Jill Bailey Chenet, 31, of Washington, D.C., was five months pregnant when she fell off the edge of a sandbar Wednesday night. Officials at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital confirmed to WAVY.com she and her unborn child were pronounced dead around 10:30 p.m.
"She was a very spunky person," the Rev. Jim Parke, who married the couple five years ago in Chenet's hometown of Salem, Va. said. "[She was] very determined to do things her way, but [had] a real heart of gold."
Chenet's husband, Matthew Chenet, 37, tried to save her but he was also pulled under water. He is in serious condition at Norfolk General.
Parke says Matt fought to keep Jill afloat for 20 minutes before help arrived. The two were flown to the hospital by helicopter. Parke says Matt didn't want to let go, but Jill and the baby were gone.
"[Matt] insisted that I bless the deceased infant," Parke said. "He said, 'I want you to bless Olive.'"
The couple had already decided to name the little girl 'Olive.' She would have been their first child.
Family says Jill loved children. She taught second grade to the hearing impaired at the River School in D.C. and found meaning in her work.
Jill's brother shared a Facebook post she wrote last month:
"Far better, surely, to use our short time here in living a meaningful life. Enriched by our sense of connection with others and being of service to them," Jill wrote.
The words have a greater meaning now that she's gone.
"It's just hard to put together, and you don't have the words," Parke said. "All you have are the tears and just to hold on."
Lifeguards are usually in that area, but their shifts were over by the time Jill and Matt went swimming. Family says that was their first trip to the Outer Banks and that they were both goo swimmers.
Opinions that are derogatory, attack other users or are offensive in nature may be removed. WAVY is not responsible for the content posted in this comment section. We reserve the right to remove any offensive or off-topic remark or thread. To mark a comment for review by a moderator, click "Flag as inappropriate."