A British amateur boxer has drowned while trying to save his dog from a Spanish river near Benidorm.
Former Royal Navy sailor Paul Lebihan, 24, died on Monday evening after getting into difficulties in the Bolulla river which has claimed the lives of three other people in the past month.
Lebihan, from Gateshead, was pulled unconscious from the water near a waterfall close to the popular beauty spot of Fuentes del Algar, a half-hour drive north of Benidorm.
Former Royal Navy sailor Paul Lebihan, 24, (left) died on Monday evening after getting into difficulties in the river which has claimed the lives of three other people in the past month
Lebihan, from Gateshead, was pulled unconscious from the water near a waterfall close to the popular beauty spot of Fuentes del Algar, a half-hour drive north of Benidorm. He is said to have drowned after trying to save his dog (pictured together)
Emergency Rescue teams search Bolulla River for Lebihan
The Briton had died whilst trying to save his dog, according to local reports, in an act that his family said shows how selfless he was. One of his Facebook pictures shows him cuddling up to his pet dog.
A police source confirmed after the drowning he had been swept away by the current.
Friends and loved ones have paid tribute to Lebihan, describing him as an ‘amazing, selfless man with a heart of gold’.
Lebihan is believed to have trained at HMS Raleigh, the largest Royal Navy training establishment in southwest 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.
Paul Lebihan 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
Lebihan is believed to have trained at HMS Raleigh, the largest Royal Navy training establishment in southwest England
The latest tragedy at the beautiful natural site near the town of Callosa d’En Sarria, occurred around 6pm on Monday.
A helicopter with firefighters, police and paramedics mobilised as part of the emergency response.
Efforts to revive the casualty 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.
Police sources said on Monday they believed the man who drowned was British but had not confirmed his nationality until today.
His mother Deborah is believed to have flown out to Spain. Lebihan is thought to have been living in Spain rather than being on holiday there.
Tributes have poured in for the 24-year-old and relatives have set up a GoFundMe appeal which has already raised around half its £15,000 goal to help his family bring Lebihan’s body home and assist with funeral costs.
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.’
Lebihan’s 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.’
The 25-year-old was pulled unconscious from the water near a waterfall which forms part of a popular beauty spot north of Benidorm
His friend Lewis Thompson wrote: ‘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.’
The latest tragedy near the Fuentes del Algar beauty spot comes after four people were killed this month in the same area.
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.
The waterfull is located in a stunning ravine just north of the popular Fuentes del Algar beauty spot – known as the Algar Waterfalls in English.
The Algar Waterfalls are described as a ‘fantastic day trip’ for holidaymakers staying in the main Costa Blanca coastal resorts on travel websites.
Travel firms offer guided tours to the area.
Visitors who want to do more than just swim around in the rock pools below the waterfalls are advised to bring hiking boots to negotiate the hills and walkways around the Bolulla and Algar Rivers.
The Bolulla waterfall, around a 15-minute hike north of the Algar Waterfalls, is a 65-feet cascade at the end of a ravine known called the Bolulla or Estret de les Penyes Ravine where the tragedies have occurred.