Dorothy Pawlowski’s voice was heavy with shock and grief as she talked Tuesday about her daughter, Donna Pawlowski, who was swept out to sea Sunday from a beach near Provincetown, Mass.
“Why the Lord took her from me, I don’t know. It’s been like a nightmare, just a nightmare,” she said, on the verge of tears.
Her 51-year-old daughter, who lived in Rexford, was two days into a five-day vacation with her wife, Barbara Pawlowski.
“They were taking pictures. She’s a big one for taking pictures and everything — the sun setting and the waves,” Dorothy Pawlowski said.
Her daughter and daughter-in-law were walking along Race Point Beach on Sunday between 8 and 9 a.m., she recounted. The beach is on the Atlantic Ocean side of Cape Cod and part of the Cape Cod National Seashore. It’s known for its swift current, and unlike many other beaches on Cape Cod, the water there gets deep very close to shore.
According to the Weather Underground website, winds were brisk that morning, but Barbara Pawlowski said the water was calm when she and her wife were first walking along the beach. Then, it suddenly got turbulent.
She declined to say much more about what happened Sunday morning.
Dorothy Pawlowski shared the following account, which she said she received from her daughter-in-law: “[A wave] knocked Barbara over and she lost her glasses, and Donna was trying to look for her glasses and she was bending down and another [wave] came over and sucked Donna right in.”
According to Dorothy Pawlowski, the women weren’t wading in the water and had their shoes on. Their keys and cellphones were lost to the waves, she said. Barbara Pawlowski also said the ocean took her wife’s camera.
Police and rescuers were called to the beach at 9:06 a.m. Sunday in response to a 911 call, and Donna Pawlowski’s body washed ashore a short time later, about 21⁄2 miles from Race Point Beach, according to an article in Tuesday’s Cape Cod Times.
A preliminary investigation revealed that Pawlowski’s death was accidental, said Cape and Islands First Assistant District Attorney Michael Trudeau.
Donna Pawlowski worked for General Electric’s corporate Global Learning team, based on Balltown Road in Niskayuna, where colleagues are mourning her loss.
“Donna was an integral part of the GE family, recognized for her expertise and diligence. The company is saddened by this tragic loss, and she will be greatly missed,” said company spokeswoman Christine Horne in an email.
Dorothy Pawlowski couldn’t recall her daughter’s job title but said she was an analyst.
“She can do so many things,” she said. “She was a wonderful person is all I can say. She was good to everybody. Everybody liked her. She was there to help everybody and anybody.”
Barbara Pawlowski said her wife loved taking pictures and had a wonderful sense of humor.
“She was very kindhearted, would do anything for anybody,” she added. “We’re totally devastated at the moment.”
Dorothy Pawlowski said she is still recovering from the loss of her husband, Frank, who died in June.
“And now my daughter is gone, and she was there to help me through everything,” she said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
Funeral arrangements had not been finalized as of Tuesday evening, but Dorothy Pawlowski said the family is planning a Friday viewing and a Saturday funeral.