A British sales director is feared to have drowned on holiday after he dived into Lake Garda to save his teenage son. Aran Chada, 51, was taking a boat trip in northern Italy on Friday with his partner, their 14-year-old son, and their daughter.
The family, who live in a village near Loughborough, Leicestershire, were thought to have just started their holiday, which would have included Mr Chada’s birthday on Tuesday.
The sales director, first identified by The Sunday Times, had reportedly been enjoying a boat trip with his family to celebrate his upcoming birthday. They were around 500 metres from the shore on the rented pleasure boat when he noticed that the teen had got into trouble in the water.
Mr Chada was able to bring his son back to the boat, and his partner, Holly Mosley, 39, dragged the boy back on board. However, Mr Chada slipped beneath the surface, “perhaps suffering a seizure”, as his horrified family looked on, coastguard commander Antonello Ragadale said.
Rescue boats, helicopters, divers and a robot submarine were called to the lake, which is up to 300 metres deep in some places, but after hours of searching there was no trace of Mr Chada.
“This man was a hero and we fear he drowned, but we’re doing everything we can to find his body,” Mr Ragadale added.
“This is a real tragedy, and the desperation in their faces was evident. He did what any father would have done for his son.”
Mr Ragadale said the teams were “pressing on for as long as it takes so we can give some comfort to the poor woman and her children”.
Mr Chada – who is reported to be a company director in the oil industry – was staying at a nearby four-star hotel, Hotel du Lac et du Parc, at Riva del Garda. He and his family are reported to be regular visitors to the Italian lakes, with his partner sharing snaps of their trips on social media.
A witness told local media: “We were about 100 metres from the shore when we heard a woman screaming for help. I looked over and she was on a boat with two children, shouting and pointing to the water, so we called the emergency services and they were there very quickly.”
Residents of Woodhouse Eaves, the village where the family live, were in shock. An administrator of the community Facebook group said: “I am totally aware of what has happened, and, in respect to the family, will not be posting.”
A coastguard spokesperson said: “The family had rented a boat from a local company for two and a half hours, and were due to return it a little before the accident. The man dived in to save his eldest child, who was in difficulty, and he managed to push him back towards the boat, but he then got into trouble.
“It was very hot on Friday afternoon, but the water was a good 10 degrees colder, so it’s possible he could have had a seizure due to the thermal shock. The search went on for almost seven hours and stopped when it got dark, but has now resumed. The family are in their hotel with police, and a psychologist has been offered to them for support.”
A Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office spokesperson said the department was supporting the man’s family and was in contact with Italian police.