In February 2009, football players Marquis Cooper and Corey Smith and a third man died at sea, the one survivor from their fishing trip, Nick Schyuler, came back with a story to tell.
And he told that story to the media, wrote a book, shared his sadness, all that. Marquis Cooper’s dad isn’t buying any of it though.
“What Nick Schuyler says what happened, it didn’t go down like that,” Cooper said in a televised interview aired on NBC affiliate 12 News in Arizona.
“From the minute Nick hits the water, he becomes Superman,” said Cooper, who was not present on the fishing excursion. “He’s saving people. He’s giving mouth to mouth. He’s giving chest compressions. He’s doing everything.”
One point of contention for Cooper is Schuyler’s claim that Marquis Cooper was unable to swim under the capsized boat in an effort to reach life vests.
“Marquis was a powerful swimmer,” the elder Cooper said. “That whole story is a bunch of bull. It didn’t go down the way Nick Schuyler said it did.”
U.S. Coast Guard video of Schuyler’s rescue from the Gulf of Mexico in March, 2009 shows the Tampa personal trainer atop a 21-foot boat bobbing in heavy seas.
Schuyler detailed the ordeal in a book titled “Not Without Hope,” released a year after the accident.
Schuyler’s publicist, Rick French, vehemently denies the accusations.
“Bruce Cooper’s comments are inappropriate and without merit,” French told The Tampa Tribune in an email. “Nick was the only survivor of that fateful trip and his account is the only one that exists or matters.
“Mr. Cooper’s remorse over the death of his son is understandable but blaming the survivor doesn’t change anything and if he persists in throwing around innuendos and slandering an individual who also has suffered greatly, the next time he will hear from us is in a court filing.”
The fact that Schuyler’s publicist is the one responding and threatening a grieving father doesn’t make him look any more credible to us. And Bruce Cooper isn’t the only one to call Schuyler out.
Marquis’s widow Rebekah also voiced her doubts about the story right after Schuyler’s book “Not Without Hope” came out.
Nothing has been more damaging to Schuyler’s book than a statement by Cooper’s widow, Rebekah, who accuses the author of “greatly exaggerating” his relationship with her late husband; of changing his story about what happened; and of “financially exploiting the deaths of others”.
Rebekah Cooper has branded the book a “one-sided account that has never been scrutinised against objective investigation”, and has defended her husband against suggestions that he was an “inexperienced boater” who had failed to prepare properly for the trip.
“Marquis knew the water like the back of his hand,,” said Cooper, who attacked Schuyler’s “ever-evolving recreation of events”. The Coopers had a four-year-old daughter, Delaney.
Schuyler described the book as his “best recollection” of what had happened and added: “If I was making stuff up, I guess I would have buttered myself up a little more.” He also said that all proceeds from the book would go to charity.
Maybe if Schuyler hadn’t felt compelled to sell the story of his friends’ death… even though he claimed it wasn’t his idea. We’re not quite sure what charity ever got the proceeds from that book either.