The five year old girl who along with her grand father drowned yesterday while holidaying in Portugal, has been named as Lara Lewis, from Lower Clapton.
Lara and her grand parents Brian and Jill O’Dwyer were washed away by a freak wave as they walked and played along the Salgado beach in the town of Nazare. Two fishermen witnessed the incident and struggled to rescue them, but medics were unable to save both Lara and her grand father.
“The grandfather was already dead when he was pulled from the sea and the INEM (National Institute of Emergency Medicine) team did their best to revive the young girl but to no avail,” said Alberquerque e Silva, the commander of the Port of Nazare rescue services.
“The two victims, accompanied by the grandmother and a younger child, had left the area of Salgada beach, which is under lifeguard surveillance, and went for a walk during and believe they must have been knocked over and swept away by the waves.”
It is thought that Lara was playing with sea shells on the sand near the water, when a huge wave engulfed her, leading her grandparents to go after her. A life guide said: “We put the red flags everywhere because it became dangerous. We only covered part of the beach and they walked to where there were no flags. Some of the waves where up to 10 feet high”.
Her parents Philip and Sian Lewis were sunbathing just further down the beach, when Lara and her younger sister were taken for a walk by their grandparents.
Neighbours on Glenarm Road, in Clapton where the Lewis family live, spoke very fondly of Lara and her family describing little Lara as “absolutely charming”. Neighbour David Mason said he remembered seeing her being brought home after her birth in her mothers arms.
Lara who had only recently started at Rushmore Primary School in Clapton, was described by headmaster Ian Mullaney as “a delightful young girl from a lovely family”.
“This has come as a huge shock to the whole Rushmore community, Mr Mullaney said.
‘Lara was a bright, friendly and positive girl who was well liked by her teachers and classmates.
‘It is a tragedy and the news is just sinking in for all of us.’
Mr Lewis 46, is a Professor of Remote Sensing at University College London. The family is being assisted by the foreign office and are awaiting the release of the bodies, before they return home to the UK.