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Tourist drowned in front of sons while onlookers couldn't understand pleas for help

Video report from ITV News Anglia's Natalie Gray

An inquest has heard how a Polish tourist drowned in front of his three sons when they got caught in a riptide at a busy Norfolk beach.

Leszek Puchala was swimming with his sons when they all got into difficulty at Sea Palling Beach on 23 July.

Mr Puchala was pulled unconscious from the waves but could not be revived.

His son was also in a bad way, and had to be airlifted to hospital after an off-duty doctor and firefighter managed to get him breathing again.

Leszek Puchala was on holiday visiting his new grandchild when he died. Credit: Family photo

Neil Ramsey, an experienced kite surfer, was one of several people on the beach who weren't aware the family were in trouble because their shouts for helps were in Polish.

"There was some noise before they got into trouble - and then there was calling towards the beach.

"We thought - and I talked to other people as well - and they thought they were calling relatives or friends to come into the water.

"We didn't realise it was a cry for help. But then the tone changed a little but more - and I think that's when people started running towards the water."

– Neil Ramsey

He has been given a bravery award for his part in trying to rescue Mr Puchala, even though it was in vain.

Sea Palling is a popular beach in Norfolk. Credit: ITV News Anglia

14-year-old David Castleman, from Loughton in Essex, was also praised by the coroner for his heroism.

It's thought his actions saved the life of Mr Puchala's son, when he found him lying face down in the water and brought him back to the shore.

14-year-old David Castleman was praised by the coroner for his heroism.

Norfolk area coroner Yvonne Blake recorded a narrative verdict.

"Mr Puchala got into difficulties while swimming. He was pulled ashore and resuscitation commenced.

"Unfortunately this did not succeed and he was pronounced dead at the scene."

"It's a really tragic outcome on what should have been a happy occasion."

– Yvonne Blake, Norfolk area coroner
Efforts to resuscitate Mr Puchala were unsuccessful. Credit: Twitter/‏@willlane1982

Mr Puchala lived in Poland, but was visiting England to see his newborn granddaughter for the first time.

Around 200 people attended his funeral.

"We would like to thank our father for always providing us with help, advice and his loving heart.

"He was a very good man who never refused to help anybody.

"A loving and devoted husband, father-of-three and grandfather and a loyal friend to many."

– Statement from Leszek Puchala's family

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