Brewton man drowns in Navarre undertow

Published 3:44 pm Wednesday, May 14, 2003

By By ROBERT BLANKENSHIP – Managing Editor
A Brewton man was killed in the waters of Navarre Beach last week as he allegedly protected a 7-year-old from the waves that were pulling both of them underwater.
Douglas Reiss, 34, was spending Friday at Navarre Beach with his girlfriend, Bari Morris of Talladega, Ala., and her son, 7-year-old Barrett Morris. The three were at the beach near a Holiday Inn around noon.
According to Reiss's mother, Barbara Reiss, her son and the 7-year-old were playing in the water when a strong undertow began to pull them further from shore. Barbara Reiss heard the account of what happened from Bari Morris.
After a few minutes, Bari began to hear cries for help.
When Bari looked out into the gulf, she saw Douglas holding her son above the water and away from the undertow.
A person who the family could only identify as "Michael" was surfing the waves nearby. According to Barbara, he either heard or saw the two struggling
swimmers and made his way to them. He put the 7-year-old on his board and brought both back to the shore.
Douglas was passed out when he was brought to the beach. An attempt to revive him through cardiopulmonary resuscitation was not successful. He was taken to the Gulf Breeze Hospital at approximately 12:55 p.m. where he was later pronounced dead.
Douglas's mother said she felt that if her son had not worked so hard to hold the 7-year-old out of the water, he may have suffered the same fate as Douglas.
Barrett Morris did not require any medical attention after being brought to shore.
Barbara said her son had went to that same beach about three times during the spring. She said he was not one to take needless risks.
Douglas and Bari Morris met at the Alabama Institute for the Blind and Deaf in Talladega. Douglas was eligible to take classes there after a car accident in 1997 impaired his vision. He began taking classes in February and many classmates attended the funeral services on Monday.
Reiss was a 1987 graduate of T.R. Miller High School. He worked at Yellowstone National Park the following year.
Reiss is the father of, Gabrielle Reiss of Brewton. He is also survived by both of his parents, Barbara and Leon Reiss. He had three sisters and two brothers. Another brother preceded him in death.