Safety Calls From Family Of Drowned Hero

The family of a man who drowned while trying to save a five-year-old girl from being swept out to sea in West Sussex have called for extra safety measures to be put in place near dangerous waters.

Plamen Petkov, 32, died after entering the water in West Wittering near Chichester and helping the girl to safety.

Although Mr Petkov managed to reach the girl and pass her to a woman who brought her back to her family on the shore at midday on Saturday May 26th, he failed to reach dry land, Sussex Police said.

Mr Petkov, of Westmoreland Drive, Sutton, Surrey, was recovered unconscious from the water by others at the scene and a post-mortem examination confirmed he died from drowning.

Mr Petkov's family told the Sutton Guardian that they wanted to stress their concern about dangerous waters in the UK, like those in West Wittering, and called for additional positive safety measures to be put in place such as stationed lifeguards.

A family spokesman said: ''We are all incredibly sad to have lost such a special person from our lives but we are also immensely proud that Plamen was able to save the life of this young child.

''His display of concern for others was typical of the man we all knew and the way he lived his life.

''Plamen always made time to help others, and as a family we have all been touched by his kindness and generosity which he displayed each day.

''We are grateful for the messages of support from everyone Plamen came into contact with both in and out of work - he leaves a huge gap in our lives and will be missed by us all.''

The family told the paper they would like to thank his friend and the woman for the effort they made in trying to save Mr Petkov's life and for the kind comments people had made about Mr Petkov returning the girl safely to shore.

The girl, who has not been named, was on the beach with her family who are from north-west London. The woman who was handed the girl in the sea was with a group separate from the child and Mr Petkova, police said.

The family told the paper: ''In these extremely difficult days, Plamen's family want to use this unfortunate opportunity to stress their concern with the dangerous waters like those at West Wittering around the UK coast and are keen to call for additional positive safety measures to be put in place, such as stationed lifeguards, and to not just rely on signage in order to prevent future tragedies of a similar nature occurring again.

''The family are looking at how they might support the local community in this area who share this concern in the hope that these changes might be an appropriate way of honouring Plamen's name and courageous act.''

A Sussex Police spokesman said: ''It is clear that this was a tragic accident, and there is no further police investigation. There will be a coroner's inquest at a later date yet to be set.''