THE family of a former Royal Navy sailor who died while climbing waterfalls in Vietnam have paid tribute to him, saying he was one of ‘life’s one-offs’.
Christian Sloan, 24, from Deal, Kent, died along with sisters Beth Anderson, 24, and Isobel Mackensie Squire, 19, from Sheffield, at the Datanla waterfalls in Lam Dong province on Friday.
Mr Sloan’s family said in a statement released through Kent Police: ‘Christian was a hard-working very popular Deal lad who was well known around the town as “The Legend” for his lovely smile, keep fit and lust for life attitude.
‘He was part of a big crowd of Deal friends well known for enjoying holidays around the world and attending the large summer festivals around the country.’
The family said that Mr Sloan had followed in the footsteps of his sister Katie-Leigh by joining the Royal Navy in 2008 for which he served as a marine engineer mechanic on board Portsmouth-based ships aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious and Type 42 destroyer HMS Edinburgh.
His family said a career highlight was being selected to represent HMS Sultan for its navy field gun team.
After the navy, he worked as a shift co-ordinator at DFDS Seaways at Dover’s Eastern Docks, where colleagues sent off Chinese lanterns on Monday in his memory.
The family said that Mr Sloan left the UK on January 4 with friend James McGlashan to go travelling in Thailand and south-east Asia including Vietnam.
They continued: “Christian’s family would like to thank everyone for the support and condolences at this very difficult and trying time.
‘Christian was a larger-than-life character, the kind of person that you knew instantly was one of life’s ‘one-offs’, he will leave an enormous void in the lives of his Mum and Dad, brother Ashley, sister Katie-Leigh, his nephews and nieces and all that knew him and he will be missed and remembered forever’
The two sisters, who were from the Ecclesall area of Sheffield, were seven weeks into a backpacking tour of Asia when tragedy struck.
In a statement released earlier through South Yorkshire Police, their family said: ‘Two bright lights have gone out.
‘They shone brightly for 24 and 19 years for everyone who loved and adored them and everyone who came into contact with them.
‘Sisters, Beth and Izzy were living a life of adventure and did so, right to the end.’
It remains unclear exactly how the three holidaymakers died, but it has been claimed that they were not with an official guide and did not use proper safety equipment.
Vo Anh Tan, deputy director of the Lam Dong joint stock tourist company which manages the Datanla waterfalls, said visitors usually start at the top of the tiered waterfall, which is popular among Western tourists.
Mr Tan said an unauthorised local private tour operator arranged the tour and apparently did not pay for entrance tickets and did not use the company’s safety equipment.
He said the guide was detained by police for questioning.
The bodies were recovered downstream from the waterfall.
Police believe the tourists might have slipped when exploring the area, according to local news reports.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: ‘We are providing support to the families of three British nationals following their deaths near Da Lat, Vietnam.
‘Our sympathies are with their families and friends at this difficult time.’