A CORONER has said that businessman, Simon Pearson, died accidentally while saving his daughter from drowning during a holiday in Italy.

Mr Pearson, 47, from Bishops Castle, died at the Lido Bosco Verde beach in Ostuni on July 19.

An inquest at Shrewsbury on Thursday, August 3, heard that he had been swimming with his daughter and father-in-law when they drifted from the shore and shouted for help.

Italian beach worker Martino Maggi, who tried to help them, also drowned.

The inquest heard how experienced swimmer Mr Pearson, the managing director of building materials firm Jesmonite, had gone to the beach in southern Italy with his wife, two children, his mother and his father-in-law.

In a written statement read at the inquest his wife, Emma Pearson, explained how the tragedy unfolded.

Warnings not to go into the sea after a storm had been given the day before, but on July 18, there was no warning and the water appeared calm.

Mrs Pearson saw a red flag on the beach, but after discussing it with her father, Anthony McGregor, the family decided they would go into the sea but not too far.

Mrs Pearson stayed on the beach with her six-year-old son.

Later she was told that Mr McGregor had been trying to signal her that he had been caught in a strong current and was trying to swim back to shore.

Mrs Pearson said: “I then turned my attention back to Simon and our daughter, who in that instant had gone from 10 metres out to much further.

“Simon was now up to his chin. I was shocked at how quickly they had gone out, it was unbelievably quick.

“Simon was waving at me and I had that fleeting thought ‘Is he waving or drowning?’

“Suddenly Simon's hand shot up very quickly and I heard him shout ‘Emma, Help me’.”

Mrs Pearson raised the alarm and two or three men ran into the sea to help while she tried to get a boat out to help them.

The three men who entered the sea were also in trouble and calling for help.

Mr McGregor had been swept further out to sea but had managed to grab a buoy.

One of the men involved in the rescue attempt was called Ibrahim.

Mrs Pearson, said in here statement: “Ibrahim made his way towards Simon and our daughter.”

“Ibrahim is a young, fit, strong swimmer and he managed to reach our daughter and get her back to shore. He told me later that he had to make a choice between Simon and our daughter, as he would not have been able to bring both of them back.

“He chose our daughter.”

A human chain had been formed to try and reach Mr Pearson.

Mrs Pearson added: “I could see my father still holding on to the buoy.

“I looked across at Simon. I was shocked to see him face down, alone and being taken further out to sea.

“I realised Simon was dead.”

She recalled how she had watched her husband hold their daughter above the water and said: “I will never forget how hard Simon fought to save his daughter’s life.”

Coroner John Ellery said Mr Pearson died of drowning and it was “clearly an accident” and gave his condolences to both families.