Hornchurch: Sea Tragedy Father 'Truly Heroic'

3 September 2012, 05:25 | Updated: 3 September 2012, 05:29

The mother of an Essex man who drowned off the coast of Majorca while unsuccessfully trying to save his young son has described him as ``truly heroic''.

George Selby, 28, and his son Louis, seven, died on the Spanish island on Saturday (September 1st).

Reports said that Mr Selby, a shop worker from Hornchurch, Essex, dived into the sea despite not being able to swim after his son was washed into the water by a large wave.

The tragedy occurred at Cala Antena beach, a small bay near the resort of Calas de Mallorca, in the south east of the island.

In a statement released through the Foreign Office (FO), Christine Selby said: "My son George Selby died trying to save his son Louis Selby.

"George was passionate about his wife Abigail and their three sons.

"This tragedy that has befallen this family has devastated the lives of his wife, sons, and mother. George, Louis and their family were - and still are - loved by all that knew them.

"Please allow us to grieve for our devastating loss of a truly heroic husband, father, son, brother. And Louis our little bear.''

Lifeguards tried to save the pair, but the rest of the family looked on as their efforts proved fruitless.

A red flag warning beachgoers not to swim is believed to have been flying at the time.

Reports said the family had arrived for a holiday on the Balearic island just hours earlier.

Mr Selby's best friend, Graham Klerk, 31, was quoted as saying: "George could not swim but I honestly can't imagine him standing by the side and watching his son drown.''

A spokeswoman for the FO said: "We are aware of the tragic deaths of two British nationals in Majorca on the first of September.

"We are providing consular assistance to the family.''

The deaths come less than two weeks after five-year-old Lara Lewis and her grandfather Brian O'Dwyer, 66, drowned near the holiday resort of Nazare, around 60 miles north of Lisbon in Portugal.

It is thought Lara was walking with her grandparents along a sandy beach when they were all pulled into the sea by strong waves on August 22.

Just a day later, Cambridge University student Marcus Hughes-Hallett drowned while swimming off the Maltese island of Comino.

The 20-year-old, who was studying maths at Queens' College, is believed to have got into difficulties while snorkelling in caves in the Bay of Santa Marija during a family holiday.