THE FAMILY of a man who drowned rescuing a girl from the sea have paid tribute to him and called for better safety measures on beaches.
Plamen Petkov drowned last Saturday after managing to pull the five-year-old from the water at West Wittering, West Sussex, after the rubber ring she was in got dragged out to sea.
Mr Petkov, a 32-year-old Bulgarian living in London, passed the girl to a woman who swam out with him but got dragged under himself.
His friend, who also helped with the rescue, pulled him back to the shore and the public and paramedics fought for 40 minutes to resuscitate him. But he was pronounced dead on the beach.
A family spokesperson said: ‘We’re 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’re 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.’
The family said they would like the opportunity to stress their concern with the dangerous waters around the UK coast and called for lifeguards to be stationed at beaches like West Wittering and to not just rely on signage in order to prevent future tragedies occurring.