A South Tyneside dad has lost his life after getting into difficulty in the sea while on a family holiday in Spain.
Carl Dunlop, of Monkton, Jarrow, drowned off the coast of Salou on Tuesday.
The 48-year-old dad-of-one was on holiday with his partner, Joy Potts, and her 12-year-old daughter, Bethany when tragedy struck.
Carl, a bus driver for Stagecoach, and Bethany were swimming in the sea when they got into difficulty.
Today, Joy, 37, paid tribute to the “hard-working family man” she was hoping to marry one day.
It was just such a huge shock. It was a freak accident but I’ve been so upset by people saying he was negligent. Carl wasn’t like that, he was a hard-working family man and he would never put himself in danger like that.Joy Potts
Joy, who also works as a bus driver for Stagecoach, met Carl at work and they have been together for three years.
She said: “We went down to the beach at about 10.30am and we went into the sea for a little bit. I only went up to my knees because I’m not very confident in the water and then I went to lie on a sun lounger.
“Bethany and Carl were in and out of the sea for about an hour but they didn’t go very far out and there were no warning signs or flags anywhere and they weren’t the only ones in the sea, there were dozens of people.
“Some reports are saying that he ignored warning flags and went in the sea anyway but that’s not true. Carl would never have gone out if he wasn’t supposed to, and he would never put Bethany in danger.
“Bethany went in up to about her stomach and Carl is taller so it would have only been up to about his thighs.”
She added: “All of a sudden, I could see Bethany trying to swim back and she had a really panicked look on her face. She said it felt like she was swimming for 10 minutes and getting nowhere and she had to claw the sand to get back to the beach.
“She said she saw Carl looking panicked but then had lost him and I heard people shouting for a lifeguard and when I heard sirens, I just knew they were looking for Carl.
“I ran over to where the police had started taping off the beach and tried to tell them I couldn’t find Carl but it was really difficult with the language barrier.
“They asked me how old he was and how short his hair was and then came back over with a document he had his money belt and then asked me to identify his body.
“It was just such a huge shock. It was a freak accident but I’ve been so upset by people saying he was negligent. Carl wasn’t like that, he was a hard-working family man and he would never put himself in danger like that.”
A spokesman for the Foreign Office added: “We can confirm the death of a British national in Salou, Spain, on October 6. We are providing support to the family at this difficult time.”