THE partner of a 33-year-old hero missing in the sea and feared drowned after diving in to rescue two girls has told of her heartbreak.
Tracey Hall has paid tribute to Marco Araujo, 33, of Grafton Street, Portsmouth, who was last seen in the Solent near Tower Street, Old Portsmouth, on Thursday.
She said in a statement: ‘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.
‘To everyone you are a hero, but to me, you were my life. What you showed to everyone by your heroic actions, I already knew. You will never be forgotten, you are my life; a fabulous dad, granddad, son, brother, uncle and friend.
‘All who had the pleasure of knowing you are left with a big gaping hole in their hearts. We all adore you more than you’ll ever know. I know you’re with me and I take great comfort knowing that. One day we will be together again forever.’
Chief Inspector Steve Burridge of Hampshire Constabulary’s Portsmouth District said: ‘Other immediate relatives were contacted and informed of the situation over the weekend by police. There have been no confirmed sightings of the missing man since Thursday, but officers remain prepared for the potential recovery of his body.
Meanwhile Tracey has put up a picture of Marco at the scene of the tragedy, at the Hot Walls in Old Portsmouth. A card has also been put up in tribute with the words ‘You and Me’ written on and the heartfelt message signed ‘crazy Tracey’: ‘I will never be the same.
‘You inspired me to be strong...you were my special friend and I will love you always.
‘I can’t believe you are gone...I never got to say goodbye.’
A hand drawn picture has been put up on the yellow warning sign at the water’s edge which reads: ‘To Dondon your [sic] with the stars love from x Midget.’
Floral tributes have also been left.
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 at about 3.45pm on Thursday.
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.
Marco is tonight still missing despite extensive searches by volunteer lifeboat crews, Coastguard helicopter, Ministry of Defence Police launch and emergency services.
Call Hampshire police on 101 with information.