The heartbroken fiancée of a hero Sheffield holidaymaker who died trying to save an elderly man from drowning has paid tribute to ‘the love of her life’.
Julie Davies and husband-to-be Keith West, aged 50, of Manor Park, were visiting Protaras in Cyprus to look at venues for their wedding next year when tragedy struck.
The couple were on the first full day of their trip when they noticed a Norwegian man in his 70s struggling in the water.
Julie, who first met Keith at school 45 years ago, said: “There was a beautiful little cove that you could see from our hotel balcony and it looked as though it was empty. Keith suggested we go there and sunbathe together.
“As we approached the cove just after lunch a woman was coming out of the sea and she said to us there was an elderly gentleman who looked like he was in trouble - a long way past where it was safe to swim.
“Keith didn’t say a word, he just ran towards the water. We both jumped in to help him, but the undercurrent was far too strong for me so I decided to run back to the hotel and ask for help.”
Julie returned with a lifeguard from her hotel who jumped into the water and dragged the old man to safety but her pride at her selfless husband-to-be turned to terror when she realised Keith was in difficulty.
The pensioner survived.
Julie said: “Keith was in the middle of the cove, about 45 metres from the shore.
“He was looking at me and I remember looking at him and an enormous wave behind him - at least 12 feet tall - crashed over him and pulled him away. He just disappeared.”
When he re-emerged she tried to give him the kiss of life.
“I tried CPR on him four times, but I knew he was gone. After that I became hysterical. I was devastated. It was absolutely horrendous.
“He was the love of my life and looked after me.”
Keith’s body has been flown back to the UK and arrangements are being made for his funeral.