Ex-Royal Navy boxer, 25, drowned while saving his dog from river near Benidorm
A BRIT amateur boxer who drowned in a river near Benidorm was trying to save his dog.
Former Royal Navy sailor Paul Lebihan, 25, died on Monday after getting into difficulties in the water at a beauty spot a short drive from the Costa Blanca resort in Spain.
Devastated pals of Paul, originally from Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, have hailed his as an “amazing, selfless man” following the tragedy and are raising cash for his family to bring his body home.
According to local reports, Paul died trying to rescue his pet dog, which he managed to save.
He was pulled unconscious from the water near a famous waterfall close to a popular beauty spot called the Fuentes del Algar – a half-hour drive north of Benidorm.
Emergency services were called to the scene at around 6pm on Monday, with a helicopter, firefighters, police and paramedics dispatched.
Efforts to revive Paul after he was swept away by the current failed and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Local reports said witnesses had tried to save him by performing CPR on him before professionals arrived to take over.
His heartbroken friends have set up a GoFundMe page, with more than £7,000 already donated.
Appeal organiser Kallym Bell, Paul’s cousin, said: “Paul was an amazing, selfless man with a heart of gold, always the biggest laugh and the very best to be around.”
Friend Lee Garretto, who lives in Gateshead, added on Facebook: “Gutted to hear the sad news. RIP bro. Glad we got out to Spain last year and came to see you
“Top top lad with a heart of gold. Thoughts are with the family at this sad time. Keep that smile shining up there pal.”
Pal Lewis Thompson wrote in a social media tribute: “Absolutely gutted writing this. All the laughs and memories we had together I’ll never forget.
“You could enter any room and the place would light up. You were an absolute diamond. Love you brother.”
Grieving relative Lisa Lebihan said: “No words can describe how we are feeling. Absolutely devastated. Gone far too soon but never will be forgotten. RIP Paul son.”
Paul, who was just 25, is believed to have trained at HMS Raleigh which is the largest Royal Navy training establishment in south west England.
It is made up of a 239-acre main site on the River Lynher in Cornwall.
He was also a keen amateur boxer and was well-known at Leam Lane Amateur Boxing Club on the Gateshead housing estate where he grew up.
One of his Facebook pictures shows him cuddling up to his pet dog.
The latest tragedy in the area takes the death toll in the last month at or around the same spot to four.
Two people including a guide were killed on April 8 after being swept away by the current after heavy rains.
They were part of a group of six people.
On April 17 a hiker drowned after falling down the waterfall where the latest tragedy is said to have occurred, a waterfall known as the Bolulla Waterfall.
Paul’s mum Deborah is believed to have flown out to Spain.
He is thought to have been living in Spain rather than being on holiday there.