Blackpool man, 22, dies after jumping into sea to save struggling woman
A brave Blackpool man lost his life after jumping into the sea in a desperate attempt to rescue a struggling woman.
Alex Gibson, 22, of Park Road, entered the sea near the Metropole Hotel on Princess Parade at around 4.20am on Friday.
His family said he was on a night out with his friends when he noticed the female in trouble in the water and sprung into action - despite being unable to swim himself.
His aunt Kaz McDevitt, 40, said: "The other person managed to crawl out, but Alex couldn't even swim. I wasn't surprised that he did it. It wasn't out of character for Alex, because he was such a genuine, caring person. I wouldn't expect anything less from Alex. He would put someone else before himself any time.
"He had so many friends, so many people are devastated. He was a great lad, he never missed a day of work in his life.
"We're a very close-knit family. It hasn't quite hit me yet because I'm trying to stay strong for everybody, but I'm devastated. I'm not sleeping, I'm not eating, and I'm still going to work because I can't stand sitting in all day thinking about it. It will just drive me crazy. Everybody is heartbroken.
"Alex was just so good. He didn't deserve to die that way.
"He was one of those people you don't meet many of in your life - and I'm not just saying that because I'm his aunt. He was a really genuine, kind person."
Alex, a former Unity Academy student, worked at C Fresh fish and chip shop on Foxhall Road.
He was an animal lover, and Kaz said 'alarm bells' started ringing when he did not return home to feed his pet parakeets on Friday morning. Later that day, police visited the family to break the tragic news.
Flowers, buckets and balloons in memory of Alex have been placed on the seafront behind the Metropole Hotel, and an online fundraiser has been set up to pay for his funeral.Curtis Busby, who worked with Alex at C Fresh and went out with him the night before he died, said: "He was so down to earth and caring. He loved animals and even went vegan because he didn't like the ways animals were treated in factories.
"He was always there for everybody. If ever I needed a roof over my head or food in my belly he was always the first to help out, and he'd never expect anything back.
"The day we found out, we closed the chippy and we all went out. Everyone's emotions are running high. People are tearful. We're all trying to not think about it. We want to remember him for who he was and not how he died. But it has shattered everyone.
"He was always smiling. Whever I came into work he was always the first I'd hear laughing about something.
"The last thing he did was try to help somebody else. That was just who he was."
Another friend Hamish Howitt said he was "a true hero" who was "a beautiful, caring, loving, son, brother and friend to all who knew him."
Abbey Poole said: "RIP Alex, a true hero."
A HM coastguard spokesman said: "We attended an incident in Blackpool at that time (the early hours of Friday). We received a call from Lancashire police with an update on the casualty, and it was confirmed that he died. As it was a fatality, the police will be responsible for dealing with it."
Blackpool RNLI also attended.
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