An elderly Indiana man was scattering his wife’s ashes in a lake when he accidentally fell into the water, suffering a fatal heart attack.
The man, 88-year-old Ralph Miyata, had gone onto a dock in about seven feet of water at Pine Lake, in the town of LaPorte, Indiana. A friend named James Sprecher had helped Miyata onto a boat to scatter the ashes, then turned his back for a moment and heard a splash, WSBT reported. The elderly man had fallen into the water.
It was not clear if Ralph Miyata suffered a heart attack as a result of falling into the water, or if he had a heart attack that then caused him to fall into the water. Either way, Sprecher said he was gone almost immediately.
“It was not a drowning,” said Sprecher. “He was dead when he hit the water.”
Sprecher said that Miyata’s wife had passed away in April, and the widower was drawn back to the lake where they often went swimming and sailing in the summer.
The strange circumstances of the story attracted some national attention, with many sharing it on social media and commenting on the tragic circumstances of the man’s death. It follows a number of other stories of longtime married couples dying within a short time frame.
Back in March, a Michigan couple who had been married for 56 years died within hours of each other in a hospital. As ABC News reported, Judy and Will Webb were holding hands when they died in a hospice center.
Family members said that Judy Webb took a sharp turn after undergoing a medical procedure that left her with a bad infection. She nearly died on New Year’s Day, but recovered.
The medical emergency left her on a ventilator, which family members said was too much for the husband to handle.
“My dad — seeing her like that — it was too much for him,” daughter MaryBeth Webb told The News-Herald. “From that point on, everything that happened to her happened to him in a different place.”
The couple continued to decline over the following months, being placed into hospice together for their final days. When they both passed away of separate ailments, family members said they were holding hands.
Indiana man, 88, suffers fatal heart attack while scattering wife's ashes in lake https://t.co/Hl2TcbvSce— AJC (@ajc) June 8, 2019
In Indiana, Miyata’s longtime friend said his passing was something of a fitting ending.
”He had completed his mission, which was putting his wife’s ashes into the lake,” said Sprecher.