Tributes paid to pastor who drowned trying to save two children

Gabriel Diya(Photo: Facebook)

The Chair of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) UK, Agu Irukwu, has paid tribute to a pastor who drowned with two of his children at a Spanish resort over Christmas. 

Gabriel Diya, 52, an RCCG pastor in south-east London, died while trying to save his daughter Comfort, nine, and son Praise-Emmanuel, 16, at the Club La Costa World on Christmas Eve. 

Pastor Irukwu told the BBC that Mr Diya "loved his family dearly".

"He died trying to save his children and that really says it all. That was the kind of man he was. He loved his wife, loved his children passionately, loved God dearly," he said.

He also paid tribute to Mr Diya's wife, Olubunmi, for her courage in coming to terms with the tragic loss of her family.

"I've never seen anyone deal with the loss of a loved one with the grace and the dignity with which I saw [Olubunmi] deal with it," he said, saying that she was a "special" woman who was coping "remarkably well". 

Josias Fletcher, a guest at the hotel from Manchester, told the BBC that he performed CPR on Comfort and held Mrs Diya's hand and prayed with her as the authorities called off attempts to revive her family.

He told the BBC he believed that the deaths could have been prevented if there had been a lifeguard on duty. The resort has said that it is not required to have a lifeguard supervise the pool because it is small.

The Spanish police have said that the three died due to a "lack of expertise" in swimming. Mrs Diya has suggested that there may have been a fault with the pool and insisted that all three could swim. 

In a statement, the resort said that investigations had found the pool to be in proper working order. 

"Diligent and exhaustive police investigations into this tragedy have confirmed that the pool was working normally and there was no malfunction of any kind," the resort owners said.

"Our sympathies remain with the family at what we understand must be a stressful and desperately upsetting time for them."

Mrs Diya has said that her Christian faith is helping her through the tragedy.

"Our family are utterly heartbroken by the events last Tuesday but we are comforted and strengthened by our strong faith in our Lord Jesus Christ," she said.

"We are deeply shocked, saddened and struggling to come to terms with their passing.

"They all brought a joy and love to the world and to everyone that crossed their path. We love them all dearly, will always remember them in our hearts and miss them greatly."