Local woman, 71, drowns in ocean off South Bethany coast


About 6:21 a.m. this past Tuesday, July 31, the body of 71-year-old South Bethany resident Graciela Huegel was recovered from the ocean near South Ocean Drive.

Huegel’s body was spotted floating in the surf by a witness who then reported it to South Bethany police.

“It was just a passerby who was walking along the beach and saw her in the surf,” explained Public Information Officer Master Corporal Gary E. Fournier of the Delaware State Police.

Fournier said Huegel was last seen around 3 a.m. by her husband, when she reportedly left the couple’s home to take an early morning walk. He said that Huegel was later identified by her husband at the scene.

“We believe that she may have gone into the ocean herself,” he explained. “An autopsy was conducted, and it was determined that the cause of death was drowning.”

Fournier added that the police did not suspect foul play, and that, although the cause of her death had been determined, “the method is undetermined.”

“She was 71 years old,” he said, “and there may have been other contributing factors involved.”