You Got The Love The Source/Candi Staton
The family of a British tourist who drowned after he succumbed to strong currents on the Italian coast has raised questions over why a red flag was not raised to warn against swimming in that area.
Brian Kent, 45, was dragged under the water when he went for a mid-afternoon dip in the sea with his wife, Sally, yesterday afternoon.
His family today said no life-guard was on duty and there was nothing to suggest conditions were treacherous on that stretch of the beach.
His sister-in-law Nicola Phillips said relatives had been looking forward to the day trip to the seaside town of Sperlonga, which came on the family holiday to Rome.
She's paid tribute to the "incredible husband and father" who would be "sorely missed by everyone".
"We had all looked forward to our trip to Rome and googled the spectacular beaches of Sperlonga," Ms Phillips said.
"After arriving we ate lunch and Brian had a pizza and one glass of beer. He waited 30-40 minutes before going into the sea. There was no red flag, and later we found out no life guard on duty."
She said this meant the family "completely underestimated" the undercurrent which "proved to be a fatal error".
The strong swimmer was said to have been overcome by the waves minutes after jumping into the water. His wife was pulled from the sea by her two sons, Connor and Aaron but efforts to save Mr Kent failed.
Ms Phillips said:
"Sally's son Connor and his brother Aaron managed to pull Sally safely to shore and two unnamed persons eventually found Brian. But we believe it was already too late.
"Members of the family, passers-by and eventually the ambulance tried in vain to resuscitate him. Brian was a strong swimmer, as were other members of the party, but a tragic accident occurred.
"My sister and their children would like to come to terms with this without the need to defend decisions that were made that day. Many thanks goes to everybody who helped, particularly the staff of the Aurora Hotel."
An employee at the Hotel Aurora in Sperlonga said high winds made the sea particularly rough yesterday afternoon.
The woman, who did not give her name, said she had been at work when a number of panicked tourists rushed into the hotel overlooking the beach.
"I was in the reception when people burst in to call for help," she said.
"They said someone was in trouble in the water and we called an ambulance immediately.
"I went outside and could see the man in the water."
She said efforts were being made to rescue Mr Kent but added:
"I think it was already too late. It was very sad."
Stefano De Stefano, owner of the Taverna di Ulisse restaurant where the family had lunch, said there was no lifeguard on duty because it was early in the season.
'It was such a tragic end to what should have been a beautiful day by the sea," he told the Daily Mail.
"They had come in here for lunch and had pizza and beers and they were all laughing and joking."
Mr De Stefano said the group dined with a party of around 10 people, including a little girl, before leaving for the beach.
But a few minutes later staff heard a commotion by the sea and a rescue helicopter arrived on the beach.
"The man was on the sand and they were pumping his chest but sadly there was nothing that could be done," he said.
The Foreign Office said it was providing consular assistance to Mr Kent's family.
A spokesman said:
"We can confirm the death of a British national and are providing consular assistance to his family."
The town of Sperlonga is situated about 100km (62 miles) from the Italian capital and is a popular tourist destination.