A hero holidaymaker from Sheffield has died abroad while saving a pensioner from drowning.
Keith West, aged 50, an electrician from Manor Park, was walking along a promenade on the first full day of his holiday in Cyprus, when he spotted an elderly man in difficulty in the sea and ran to his aid.
Keith managed to pull the old man to dry land –but lost his own footing in a strong undercurrent, was dragged beneath the water, and disappeared from sight.
A lifeguard who was helping with the rescue effort on the beach in Pernera risked his own life to enter the water too – but it was 10 minutes before Keith was found and brought to the surface. He could not be revived.
Keith’s heartbroken fiancée Julie Davies witnessed the tragedy unfold.
The couple were planning to get married in Cyprus next year, and had travelled there to look for venues for their wedding ceremony and reception.
They had arrived on the holiday island a day earlier.
Julie has now been joined by some of Keith’s devastated brothers and sisters, who have flown to Cyprus to help make arrangements for him to be brought home.
Floral tributes have been laid on the beach where Keith lost his life.
Speaking on behalf of the family, brother-in-law Garry Fisher, 56, from Aston, said: “Keith died a hero. It is such a waste of a good man’s life and all in the space of a few seconds.”
Lorry driver Garry, who is married to Keith’s sister Yvonne, 56, said the death had shattered the family.
“Nobody can believe it – Keith was such a strong swimmer, he did lifesaving badges when he was younger.
“Keith and Julie were walking along the promenade when they saw an elderly couple in difficulty in the water and could hear the woman shouting ‘help’.
“They rushed down to the sea and where the man was, and it was only knee high, but there must have been a strong under current because he couldn’t get out.
“Keith went in and managed to pass him over to a lifeguard, but then the undercurrent took hold of him and he went under.
“It took the lifeguard 10 minutes to find him and bring him up to the surface.
“Keith died a hero and we are all very proud of what he did, trying to save someone’s life, but we are just devastated at what happened to him.”
Keith, who grew up in Woodthorpe and was known to family and friends as Tufty, was one of 12 siblings.
Garry said he had a ‘close family and lots of friends’.
“He was an absolutely brilliant man with a dry sense of humour. He will be badly missed.”
His sister Paula Robjohns, 41, from Crowle near Doncaster, also hailed her brother – who died on Monday – a hero.
“All he would have been thinking is that he needed to help,” she said.