Man Dies Trying To Save Child

A man has drowned after rescuing a child playing in the sea at West Wittering Beach in West Sussex.

A man who drowned while trying to rescue a young girl as she was being swept out to sea has been named by police.

Bulgarian national Plamen Petkov, 32, entered the water at West Wittering, West Sussex, after the five-year-old was being carried away by the tide.

He 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, Sussex Police said.

But Mr Petkov, of Westmoreland Drive, Sutton, Surrey, failed to reach dry land himself and he was recovered unconscious from the water by others at the scene.

A post-mortem examination at St Richard's Hospital in Chichester confirmed he died from drowning. An inquest has been opened and adjourned, a police spokesman said.

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 Petkov.

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.''

Plamen Petkov's family have released the following tribute:

"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.

"We would like to thank his friend and the woman for the huge effort they made to try to save Plamen’s life and to people for the kind comments made about Plamen and his part in returning the child safely to the shore.

"In response to the many people who have been moved by his brave act, the family would like to release his name and picture to be commemorated. We also appreciate suggestions to award Plamen with a posthumous honour for his actions.

"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.”

The family would like to express their wish to journalists to leave them to grieve in privacy."

The tragedy happened as the beach was packed with sun-seekers enjoying a mini-heatwave at the weekend, with temperatures in parts of southern England hitting 28C (82.4F).

News of Mr Petkov's drowning came after the death of 23-year-old Nicholas Smith, who was pulled from the water in Linn Park near Simshill on the south side of Glasgow, and died later in hospital.

In a further incident, a 22-year-old man died after getting into difficulty while swimming with friends at a disused quarry at Ballykelly, near Monasterevin, Co Kildare, Ireland.

His body was recovered by the Garda Sub Aqua Unit on Sunday evening.

Also on Sunday, 15-year-old Thomas Barton drowned in a reservoir in Chorley, Lancashire.

The tragedies followed the death of a 15-year-old boy who drowned when he jumped from a bridge into the River Thames in Oxford on Friday night.

The body of Hussain Mohammed was not recovered for two hours after he was seen plunging into the water.