Page last updated at 14:04 GMT, Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Man drowned on family holiday in Cape Verde

A man has told an inquest how his brother drowned when they were overcome by strong currents while swimming in the sea in Cape Verde.

Mark Litwin was holidaying on the islands off the west coast off Africa with his two brothers last year.

He said Michael, 62, from Sandhurst, Berkshire, disappeared in the waves as they swam at a secluded spot about two miles (3.2km) from their hotel.

The coroner at Basingstoke, Hampshire, recorded a verdict of accidental death.

We could feel the current pulling us and decided to come into shore
Mark Litwin

Mark Litwin, the youngest of the brothers, told the inquest he went on daily walks with Michael and on the afternoon of 16 November they decided go for a swim.

Mr Litwin said his eldest brother was "very fit" for his age and was a strong swimmer.

He said: "We jumped in playing about in the waves, we had been in the sea for a good while, half an hour or so, when it felt like the tide was going out but it wasn't, it was going in.

"We could feel the current pulling us and decided to come into shore.

"Just as we turned our backs, a huge wave hit us and took us under water and took us quite a distance out, 400 or 500 yards out.

"We weren't getting anywhere and the waves were still hitting us. Most of the time we were quite close to each other.

"We both started to head back in when I got hit by a quite large wave which took me down and I wasn't sure I would survive it, I thought the next breath I would take would be water."

Lifeless body

He said he managed to get to the shore and began searching for his brother only to discover his lifeless body in the water.

"I tried resuscitating him but he was cold," Mr Litwin explained.

Post-mortem tests confirmed he had drowned.

On arriving back at the hotel, he said the middle brother, Stephen, was angry because he was worried they had been gone for a long time.

Mr Litwin broke down in tears as he told the inquest: "He was just screaming 'Where have you been' and I said 'Just calm down, we have lost Mick'."

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