Brian Schumacher and Janet Veit had been posting photos from their adventures — showing the pair posing behind a cutout of Viking explorers or simply capturing their view of a breathtaking waterfall.
The Minnesota couple, who were both fly-fishing guides back home, had embarked on their first international vacation to Iceland, intending to soak in the Nordic sights and enjoy their favorite sport. Veit told her family about her biggest catch — a six-pound brown trout, her sister, Patrice Veit, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
But their trip turned tragic Sunday when one of them was swept into an Icelandic lake not too far from Reykjavik — and the other tried to help. Although there are conflicting reports about who went in first, Veit’s sister wrote Monday in a Facebook post that the U.S. Embassy in Iceland told family members that Veit was swept away and that Schumacher entered the lake to save her.
They were pulled from the lake but could not be resuscitated.
“In a world of wonderful people, Janet and Brian were pretty near the top,” Veit's sister wrote on Facebook. “They loved their families, their friends, their colleagues, their dogs and cats, and most importantly, each other. Please keep them in your hearts today and in the future. Be kind to those you meet, as they would. Peace to you all.”
Patrice Veit told the Star Tribune that “We take odd comfort in the fact that they died together — one thinking they were going to be saved, the other thinking they were going to be the savior.”
The couple, both 48, were from La Crescent, a town near the Wisconsin border. Schumacher worked for a medical clinic headquartered in Wisconsin, and his wife was a veterinarian at an animal hospital, according to the Star Tribune.
Hillside Animal Hospital in La Crosse, Wis., where Veit had worked for years, posted a message Monday on Facebook, announcing the tragic news “with a heavy heart and great sadness.”
“They’re just your finest, salt-of-the-earth people,” Veit's sister, Patrice, told the newspaper. “Kind and witty and intelligent. Generous. Loving, passionate about their interests. Accepting. Socially responsible.
“Until they died, I had no idea of the enormity of the network they had helped and supported emotionally and financially and in friendship for many many years.”
She could not immediately be reached for comment by The Washington Post.
The U.S. Embassy in Iceland directed questions about the couple’s death to the State Department, which did not immediately provide details about the incident.
The couple were set to return from the trip on Saturday. Their bodies are being flown home to Minnesota for the funerals, according to the Star Tribune.