ORANJESTAD, Aruba, Wednesday August 15, 2012 – An NBA veteran who had three consecutive All-Star seasons has drowned off Aruba while trying to help his wife as she struggled in rough water.
Dan Roundfield, who played 11 professional seasons with Indiana, Atlanta, Detroit and Washington, had been swimming with his wife Bernie off the southeastern tip of the island when they got into difficulty in rough sea beyond a protected reef area, according to an Aruba police spokesman.
The 59-year-old was said to have been swept away in a strong current as he tried to save his wife. Police, firefighters, the Coast Guard and volunteers searched the area, finding his body trapped by rocks underwater about 90 minutes later.
Roundfield’s widow, who was helped to safety by an American tourist snorkelling nearby, said that the Atlanta-based couple was visiting Aruba with their two grandchildren.
According to Mrs Roundfield, the couple had visited the southern Caribbean island nearly 20 times and were caught off guard by the strong currents at the area known as “Baby Beach” where they had swum many times in the past “because it’s so safe”.
Mrs Roundfield was treated for shock after the tragedy and the government provided a social worker to assist her and other family members while they remained in Aruba.
She said that her late husband would be remembered as a family man.
“People knew he was a great husband, a great dad, a great grandfather,” Bernie Roundfield said. “They knew he would help his friends or any other person who needed help.”
A 6-foot-8 forward-center out of Detroit, Roundfield played for Central Michigan in college and started his pro career with Indiana, which was then in the ABA. He played 11 professional seasons. Besides the Pacers, he had stints with Atlanta, Detroit and Washington and averaged 15.2 point per game for his NBA career.
Roundfield was selected as an All-Star in 1980, 1981 and 1982, when he was playing for the Hawks.
Friends and colleagues mourned an athlete that they said was known for physical play but a gentle nature. “Danny represented the Hawks with dignity and pride both on and off the court, and this is a tragic loss for us all,” team General Manager Danny Ferry said in a statement.
Former Hawks teammate Dominique Wilkins called Roundfield the “most honest and upfront person I knew,” in a statement released by the team. “He taught me how to be a professional and took me under his wing,” he said. “My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, I will truly miss him.”
In addition to his wife, Roundfield is survived by his sons Christopher and Corey and two grandchildren.
The police spokesperson said Baby Beach is generally safe but can be deceptive. The water can get treacherous out beyond the reef in rough weather.
In August last year, an American tourist, Gary Giordano of Maryland, reported that his companion Robyn Gardner disappeared while snorkelling near Baby Beach. Police detained Giordano on suspicion of involvement in her death but he was released for lack of evidence and returned to the United States.