Family heartbreak as beach tragedies kill two

Family heartbreak as beach tragedies kill two in Póvoa do Varzim and Vagos

Two families were torn apart at the weekend as strong waves and currents buffeted the coast.
In Póvoa do Varzim the difficult conditions swept a 61-year-old teacher to his death as he struggled to save his wife. And in Vagos, in the central district of Aveiro, a 35-year-old mother disappeared after rushing into the water to help save her eight-year-old daughter.
The body of Vera Lúcia Oliveira is still missing.
It was the kind of weekend that lifeguards dread – bad conditions as the end of the summer season approaches.
In the incident in Póvoa de Varzim, it was a bodyboarder and other swimmers who rescued the drowning wife of teacher José Guimarães.
“I saw a sudden series of large waves and then I heard shouts,” Ricardo Marques said afterwards. “I saw a couple in trouble. The woman looked like she was most in need of help.”
Marques managed “with difficulty” to grab the 57-year-old, who was “incredibly frightened”, he told reporters. “She kept saying, don’t let go of me, please don’t let go.”
But by the time Marques had got Celina safely to shore, he realised her husband had been killed after waves had smashed his body against the rocks.
The next day (Sunday) saw a similar horror in Areão beach, Vagos, when Catarina Silva got into difficulties late in the afternoon. Her parents rushed to bring her to shore, but mother Vera was caught by a wave and disappeared from sight.
Rescue workers called off their search at nightfall and resumed air and sea searches again on Monday morning.
Areão beach is notorious for its strong currents, with a history of swimmers getting into difficulties.