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‘I didn’t want my husband’s death to be in vain’: Henrico mom, business owner shares story after losing husband in boating accident

Published: Jun. 16, 2022 at 4:44 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 16, 2022 at 8:13 PM EDT
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HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - As the summer approaches and people enjoy being outside on the water, a Henrico woman hopes they’ll keep safety in mind.

It has been almost a year since Cynthia Williams-Bey lost her husband in a boating accident. She is sharing her story to save someone else hopefully.

“So Aug. 5 of 2021, Andri got up at about 5 a.m. to head out to go fishing down in Norfolk. He kissed me. He said, ‘I’ll see you later.’ I said, ‘have fun.’ I expected that he was going to be out for a while because he got his first boat,” she explained. “He had literally just bought it like that Monday, and he took it out on the water that Thursday.”

The daycare owner, radio show co-host, and mom of five says at the time, she was nine weeks pregnant with baby number six. The couple had just found out. Williams-Bey says she continued with her day, then realized it was getting later, and she had not heard from her husband.

Together, Andri and Cynthia Williams-Bey hosted a radio show.
Together, Andri and Cynthia Williams-Bey hosted a radio show.(Williams-Bey Family)

“When I woke up from my nap, maybe about 10 minutes later, I got a knock at the door, and I went to the door, and it was Henrico County Police,” Williams-Bey explained.

She was told to call Marine Police in Norfolk. It was a phone call that changed her entire family’s life.

“That’s when the Marine Police notified me that they had found his body and that he had washed up, and they found him on the rocks,” she said.

Investigators say Andri’s boat capsized near Anderson Park in the Hampton Roads area. Williams-Bey remembers letting out a scream as she cried learning the news. She says one of her oldest children immediately came to be by her side.

“It was horrible. It was really horrible,” Williams-Bey said.

As it approaches one year, she hopes to prevent another death by sharing important boat safety information with the community.

Andri Williams-Bey
Andri Williams-Bey(Williams-Bey Family)

“Is the boat equipped for your type of use? So, my husband, he wanted to use it specifically for fishing, but not every boat is meant for every type of water,” she said “Have someone check it out because, from my understanding, it was an issue with the engine, like he got out in the water, but when it was time to come back, the engine had failed. So, that was one of the issues.”

Williams-Bey says it is essential to not go out on the water alone and have a life vest. She says Andri was a great swimmer, but at the time, he was not wearing protective equipment.

Authorities want to make sure you map your route and drive responsibly. They also urge people to check the forecast and become familiar with the tide schedule.

“I didn’t want my husband’s death to be in vain. I wanted to find a purpose behind it. A lot of the times, the things that we go through, it’s not for us,” Williams-Bey explained.

Andri Williams-Bey is remembered as a father, husband, business owner, DJ, and multimedia professional.

Andri Williams-Bey is remembered as a father, husband, business owner as well as a DJ and...
Andri Williams-Bey is remembered as a father, husband, business owner as well as a DJ and multimedia professional.(Williams-Bey Family)

“Me and the kids, we did go to counseling together. I did take my time in that decision, you know, and that’s one thing I want to let widows know, that it’s OK to take your time. You don’t want to just rush into counseling if you’re not ready to release. Once I got to that point, we did do counseling. Thank you to Full Circle Grief [Center] out on a Patterson [Avenue]. We did group counseling together. And it was so helpful for all of us,” she said.

The last year has been challenging as she navigates life as a widow, but the birth of their daughter AJ in March is among the many things that help her keep going, even on the darkest days.

The last year has been hard as Williams-Bey navigates life as a widow, but the birth of their...
The last year has been hard as Williams-Bey navigates life as a widow, but the birth of their daughter AJ in March, is among the many things that help her keep going, even on the darkest days.(NBC 12)

“Every morning after I read my word, I always go to Facebook, and I pull up memories. I like to look at memories of us, like videos,” she said. “I always try to look on the positive things. I keep my mind positive. Keep my mind looking for the next, you know, getting in that space. With everything that I went through, I can easily draw into like depression and things like that. It’s been a journey.”

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