Tragic events off the Algarve coast

By DAISY SAMPSON [email protected]

An Irish man has died and a German tourist left with serious spinal injuries following two separate incidents off the coast of the Algarve on Sunday, July 31.

Geoff Hingston, 37, died while taking part in a boat trip from Vilamoura with his wife of eight months Sinéad, his father and mother-in-law.

A member of the family told the Irish Times newspaper how the group of four had been on an organised boat trip which saw groups of tourists being taken into caves from the main boat.

The family member said: “The captain of the boat said people could get in for a swim while we waited to be brought to the caves. So he (Geoff Hingston) got in and was swimming with other people while Sinéad was taking photographs of him. She had him in her sight the whole time.”

It is reported that Geoff Hingston then appeared to be floating on his back when his wife called to see if he was alright.

“This was the first indication we had that anything was wrong. He was brought into Albufeira beach by dinghy. We were left on the main boat…when we finally got back to the beach there was an ambulance and medical people were asking Sinéad if he had banged his head or anything and she said no.

“They said they had tried everything to save him. He had no heart problem. We have no idea how he died…we have to wait for the autopsy and the paperwork. It really is just so awful.”

Maritime police commander Cruz Martins said: “The victim was assisted by the emergency teams but he was declared dead at the scene. He may have died from thermal shock.”

Geoff Hingston was a TV producer who was known for his role as “Geoff the Ref” on the popular Sky Sports television series Soccer AM.

Following the news of his death, friends and colleagues responded to the news via the social networking site Twitter.

Television presenter Amanda Davies tweeted: “So sad to hear the wonderful @GefRef has passed away.  One of the 1st people I met embarking on my TV career but still one of the kindest.”

Craig Norenbergs from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation tweeted: “My beautiful mate Geoff Hingston @GefRef has passed on.  Always a lager and a seat in the pub next to me mate.  I’ll never forget you buddy.”

A spokesman from the Irish Embassy confirmed that the family of Geoff Hingston were being offered assistance.

Spinal Injuries

Meanwhile, on the same day further along the coast, a German man sustained serious spinal injuries after diving into the sea at a small beach near Carvoeiro.

The man was rescued from the sea by lifeguards and then transported by helicopter to hospital in Faro.

A spokesman from Faro hospital said: “The man in his forties was admitted on Sunday and assisted by staff at the hospital. However, he was then transferred to the spinal cord unit in the São José Hospital in Lisbon for more specialised treatment.”