Couple’s Death in Riptide Spurs Unspeakable Grief in Dracut Church
DRACUT -- As the sun set outside St. Francis Parish on Monday night, the church’s parking lot filled with cars, as hundreds of people flowed inside.
The friends, family members and parishioners gathered to mourn the sudden loss of Mike and Laura Cote, well-known members of the Dracut church.
The married Methuen couple was killed by dangerous rip currents off Seabrook Beach on Sunday. Mike, 49, was pronounced dead shortly after being pulled from the water by emergency crews, while 47-year-old Laura, died Monday morning.
Church leaders said in an official release on Monday: “They were so involved in every spiritual and other undertaking in this parish that many of us are in deep mourning.”
“They were very sincere people,” said Rev. Sean Maher, pastor of St. Francis Parish, shortly before Monday night’s prayer service began.
“They tried to get to know the Lord through prayer, through study, through service,” he said.
Professionally, Mike was involved in information technology, while Laura was a registered nurse. They were both heavily active in the church, with Mike serving on several church committees.
On Saturday nights, the Cotes often helped others from St. Francis Parish feed the homeless in Lowell. Mike and Laura were recently involved in helping collect backpacks and other school supplies for financially troubled children.
The Cotes were featured in a December 2017 “Be a Volunteer” story in The Sun for helping to organize a three-day Advent retreat at the Church.
“We’re trying to get people to slow down during the Advent season so they can kind of focus on what’s important during Advent -- the birth of Jesus -- and get away from the shopping, the busyness and everything,” Mike was quoted in that story. “We’ve always done these kinds of retreats in the past, so we wanted to have something again where people can come for three nights and just kind of put the rest of the outside world aside for awhile and just quiet down and pray -- and just be with other people.”
Emergency crews responded to Seabrook Beach for reports of multiple swimmers struggling in the water shortly before 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Seabrook police said in a press release, hours after the inicident.
Seven people were pulled from the water, including six original swimmers in distress and one good Samaritan, who aided in the rescues.
CPR was performed on the Cotes before they were transported to separate hospitals.
The remaining five people pulled from the water were not hurt.
Maher recalls having to replay the message he received revealing Mike’s death on Sunday several times “to make sure I heard it correctly.”
The devastation grew on Monday morning when the word of Laura’s death reached him. The sadness spread among the congregation and beyond.
“They were so involved, that anybody who was really involved in the church knew them well,” Maher said.
Follow Aaron Curtis on Twitter @aselahcurtis