A British sales manager is feared to have drowned while on holiday after diving into Lake Garda to save his teenage son. Aran Chada, 51, was on a boat trip in northern Italy on Friday with his partner, their 14-year-old son and daughter.
The family, who live in a village near Loughborough, Leicestershire, are believed to have just started their holiday, which would have included Mr Chada’s birthday on Tuesday.
The Commercial Director, first identified by The Sunday Times, would have taken advantage of a boat trip with his family to celebrate his upcoming birthday. They were about 500m from shore on the hired pleasure boat when he noticed the teenager had gotten into trouble in the water.
Mr Chada was able to get his son back to the boat and his partner, Holly Mosley, 39, brought the boy back on board. However, Mr Chada slipped below the surface, “possibly suffering from a seizure”, as his family watched horrified, Coastguard Commander Antonello Ragadale said.
Rescue boats, helicopters, divers and an underwater robot were called into the lake, which reaches up to 300 meters deep in places, but after hours of searching there was no trace by Mr. Chada.
“This man was a hero and we fear he may have drowned, but we are doing everything we can to find his body,” Mr Ragadale added.
“It’s a real tragedy, and the desperation on their faces was evident. He did what any father would have done for his son.
Mr Ragadale said the teams were ‘continuing for as long as it takes so that we can bring some comfort to the poor woman and her children’.
Mr Chada – believed to be a company director in the oil industry – was staying at a nearby four-star hotel, Hotel du Lac et du Parc, in Riva del Garda. He and his family are said to be regular visitors to Italian lakes, with his partner sharing snaps of their trips on social media.
A witness told local media: “We were about 100 meters from the shore when we heard a woman screaming for help. I looked and she was on a boat with two kids, screaming and pointing in the water, so we called the emergency services and they came very quickly.
Residents of Woodhouse Eaves, the village where the family lives, were in shock. A community Facebook group admin said: ‘I am fully aware of what happened and out of respect for the family I will not be posting.
A Coastguard spokesman said: ‘The family had rented a boat from a local company for two and a half hours and were due to return it shortly before the accident. The man dived to save his eldest, who was in trouble, and he managed to push him back to the boat, but then got into trouble.
“It was very hot on Friday afternoon, but the water was a good 10 degrees cooler, so it’s possible he had a seizure from heat shock. The search lasted almost seven hours and stopped at nightfall, but has now resumed. The family is in their hotel with the police, and a psychologist has been offered to accompany them.
A spokesman for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said the department was supporting the man’s family and was in contact with Italian police.