GLOUCESTER—Three decades after leaving high school and their childhoods in North Attleborough and Wrentham, David Machado, Kristen Mayo, and Evelyn Howe had found one another again. David and Kristen married.Kristen and Evelyn took their high school acquaintanceship to a deeper friendship. They visited and chatted often.
They decided to spend Sunday together. The couple drove up from Rhode Island to visit Howe. They had breakfast; then they chatted. After lunch, they set out on an exuberant mile-and-a-half stroll to one of Howe’s favorite places on earth, Brace Cove, a rocky grotto of coastline near Eastern Point, with breathtaking views of the ocean and a sprawling brick manor looking out to sea.
Only Mayo-Machado survived the trip. Police say her 48-year-old husband, David, was swept into churning seas. Mayo-Machado said Howe, 46, slipped trying to save him. Both died.
Mayo-Machado said the trio trekked out to a rock near Eastern Point and sat for an hour and at some time around 5 p.m. headed back, scrambling over boulders in winds.
David Machado took the lead and was having the time of his life, flailing his arms like a child as he walked over the rocks, Mayo-Machado said. But the tide was sweeping in and pounding the shore with waves.
Mayo-Machado says she heard her husband scream, and the two women thought he was just being silly. But the screaming continued.
“He had no control of the situation; it was written all over his face,” Mayo-Machado said Monday evening. “I was screaming to him, to grab hold of rocks, but everything was covered in moss and wet and slippery. The waves were slamming him against the wall and the rocks.”
Mayo-Machado said that Howe, an experienced swimmer, tried to grab hold of him, but she slipped and was also in the water. Howe turned on her back and floated out to calmer water, Mayo-Machado said.
Mayo-Machado said she extended her leg so that her husband could grab on, but the distance between them was too great and the rocks too slippery.
At that moment, a massive wave arrived, almost tossing her into the sea alongside her husband, she said, and she retreated to safety. “And then I never saw him again.” She called 911.
“I thought that Evelyn would be fine because she seemed to float away from the danger, but I lost sight of her too,” Mayo-Machado said.
Fifty-three minutes later, Officers Chris Frates and Anthony Giacalone, searching from a police boat, spotted Howe and Machado face down on the ocean floor not far from shore, about 10 feet apart.
“The police told me that my sister died a hero,” said Howe’s brother, Mark Brindley of Norfolk, who visited the police station Monday and was consoled by one of the officers who performed CPR on Howe.
Howe and Machado were rushed to Addison Gilbert hospital, where they were pronounced dead.
“This is a tragic event for the families of the two victims, as well as the community,” said Leonard Campanello, the police chief.
“A very hard lesson from the sea that, while enormously beautiful and majestic, should always be approached and enjoyed with respect and extreme caution, as the ocean follows no rules or schedule, and its unpredictability can cause this type of tragedy.”
David Machado and Kristen Mayo-Machado, high school sweethearts, married in 2010 after reconnecting online.
Howe, a single mother who moved from the Boston area to Gloucester recently after her son went to college, was an avid outdoorswoman and had volunteered for relief efforts in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina and in Belize recently.
“My sister had a great big heart,” Brindley said.Brian Ballou can be reached
Follow him on Twitter at @globeballou.