Tribute to hero who lost life in drowning tragedy

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A CORONER said a man showed ‘extraordinary bravery’ in helping to save the life a girl who was swept out to sea.

Plamen Petkov, 32, died on May 26 saving the life of five-year-old Darleen Myint whose inflatable ring drifted out to sea at West Wittering.

An inquest in Chichester heard Darleen had been playing on the water’s edge when a strong wind caught hold of the inflatable she was sitting in.

The girl’s mother, San Thidar Myint, tried to grab the ring but it was swept out to sea.

Mr Petkov was walking along the beach with his friend Stefan Mayorov when he heard Mrs San’s calls.

He waded into the water and swam to help Darleen.

Mr Mayorov and another beach-goer, Nikki Howkins, followed.

Mr Mayorov gave the girl to Miss Howkins. She told the inquest how she had to make a choice between getting the terrified child back to shore and helping Mr Petkov, who was struggling to stay afloat.

Mr Mayorov managed to drag his friend back to shore.

Despite efforts to revive him, Mr Petkov was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mrs San said: ‘He was a very brave man. If he didn’t go and get my daughter I would have lost her forever.’

Recording a verdict of accidental death, assistant deputy coroner Joe Turner said: ‘With no regard for his own safety he dived in and, while saving her life, he became exhausted and tragically drowned.’