1. ITV Report

Girlfriend's emotional tribute to 'soul mate' Ben Witts after kitesurfer dies in Devon beach tragedy

Ben Witts

A kitesurfer who died after an incident on a North Devon beach has been locally named as Ben Witts.

Ben was rescued from Saunton Sands after coastguards were alerted at around 11am on Saturday, February 9.

Devon Air Ambulance airlifted Ben to North Devon District Hospital, where he later died.

He was an experienced kitesurfing instructor and owned North Devon Kitesurfing School.

Saunton is a popular beach for watersports year round. Credit: PA

According to its website, he was inspired by his family as a child. They ran their own outdoor activity centre which specialised in kayaking and cycling endurance events.

As well as aspiring to build on the success of his school, Ben wrote his ambition was to be 'more involved in environmental concerns affecting the local area and beyond.'

Tributes have been paid to the kitesurfer on social media, including from his girlfriend Cheylee Howson.

In an emotional post on Facebook, Ms Howson said she did everything she could to pull Ben out of the water and help him before paramedics arrived.

She wrote: "Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to the amazing people on Saunton beach who rushed to help me."

Ben, I love you so very much and miss you even more. You were everything I've ever dreamed of and what we had was incredible.

Nothing will ever be the same without you here. I miss your cheeky smile and the way you said 'I love you' to me, and knowing I'm never going to be in your arms again hurts like nothing I can explain.

Sleep tight my darling Ben, my soul mate. I love you. Forever yours, Squirrel.

– Cheylee Howson