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Praise for man who died saving child off Sussex beach
A mother has praised a man who drowned saving her five-year-old daughter from being swept out to sea.
Darleen Myint was celebrating her father’s birthday at West Wittering beach, near Chichester, when strong currents pushed the inflatable ring she was on away from the shore.
Her mother San Thidar Myint shouted “My baby! My baby!” and passing electrician Plamen Petkov, 32, jumped into the sea, an area where swimming is discouraged because of dangerous currents.
He managed to pull Darleen ashore, but was so exhausted he drowned.
Yesterday (October 17), at an inquest into his death at Chichester Magistrates’ Court, Mrs Myint, from London, said Mr Petkov, from Sutton, Surrey, was a “brave and honourable man” who had not hesitated to help during the incident on May 26.
Crying, she told the inquest: “I did not have a chance to say thank you to him. He didn’t think twice when I asked for help.
“He was holding her and she was holding him back. If he had thought twice my daughter would have been far, far away and I would have lost her for ever. He saved my daughter.”
Call for help
She said: “Darleen was just out of my reach and she started drifting further away.
Serious “She thought it was funny and she was smiling but I could not reach her and the water was getting deeper and deeper and it was up to my neck. I was panicking and I called for help.”
Mr Petkov’s friend Stefan Mayorov said: “Plamen had started to walk out until it got too deep and he started swimming.
“The [inflatable ring] was now drifting away quickly and was 50 metres away and I believed things had got serious.
“I shouted for help and ran out into the sea and started swimming.
“Plamen was not moving. I started talking to him and said to him in my language ‘pass me the girl’. His head was under the water and there was no reaction.”
West Sussex Assistant Deputy Coroner Joe Turner described Mr Petkov as “extraordinarily brave”.
He said: “Without any thought for his own safety Plamen Petkov was the first in the water. He managed to save the girl but by this time he was in grave difficulties.”
The coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death.