THE father of a girl rescued by heroic Marco Araujo has paid tribute to him after a body was found by police.
Officers made the discovery in Portsmouth Harbour and it is believed they have found the 33-year-old who was feared drowned after he dived in to rescue two girls.
Mr Araujo leapt into action after four-year-old Destiny Butcher, of Landguard Road, Eastney, and a 10-year-old girl were swept out into the water.
A 17-year-old boy, named locally as Connor Faith, also rushed to help.
The two girls and Connor made it back to land, but Mr Araujo never returned despite an extensive search.
He was last seen in the Solent near Tower Street, Old Portsmouth, at about 3.45pm on Thursday, July 26.
Destiny’s dad Freedom Butcher, 27, said although his daughter was being looked after by someone else, he still felt guilty for what had happened.
‘I’m shocked, although I knew it was inevitable,’ he said.
‘This is a tragedy that should never have happened. It just goes to show that people need to be more educated about the dangers down there.
‘A wonderful man has lost his life – a great man who put my daughter’s life before his own.
‘I think not only him, but also 17-year-old Connor Faith who went to help, both deserve to be recognised for what they’ve done.
‘They both should be given medals because it is so important to remember what they did.’
Ann Benton, 42, from Hamilton in Scotland, was on holiday with her family in Portsmouth when she watched Mr Araujo disappear beneath the waves.
‘If only there had been a life ring there,’ she said.
‘It could have been the difference between life and death.
‘But I’m glad his partner has a body she can bury now, hopefully that will help her grieve and find some closure.’
Before the discovery yesterday Mr Araujo’s partner Tracey Hall described him as a hero and said she had lost her soulmate.
She said: ‘A lovely family day turned into my worst nightmare, which I cannot wake from.
‘My three-year-old grandson and I watched Marco go into the sea to save lives. There was no hesitation from Marco.
‘I have lost my partner, my best friend and my soulmate.’