Belfast Telegraph

Northern Irish man Gary Wood dies of heart attack while swimming to island in Lake Garda

By Aaron Tinney

A Northern Irishman has died while attempting an arduous one-mile swim in Lake Garda, despite a dramatic rescue attempt by his family.

Gary John Wood (37) - who was born in Northern Ireland but had settled in Leytonstone, east London - suffered a suspected heart attack and was tied to a buoy by his relatives before they swam off for help.

Rescuers were initially unable to find him on Lake Garda near Salo, Italy. Divers finally located his body using a remote-controlled submarine.

Mr Wood was declared dead once he was raised to the surface on Saturday.

A German tourist died the same day on the lake, where Prime Minister Theresa May was yesterday due to arrive for a holiday.

Mr Wood's brother, Darren, said: "My mum is heartbroken."

Mr Wood was on holiday with family at the lakeside town of San Felice del Benaco and had been trying to swim to the Island of Rabbits with his wife, mother, sister and brother-in-law, but a strong wind whipped up 6ft waves and high winds, and his mother and wife soon turned back. Mr Wood and the others were a third of a mile from the island when he had a suspected heart attack.

His sister and brother-in-law, both doctors, tried to resuscitate him, mouth-to-mouth, in the water for 10 minutes before they swam to shore and raised the alarm.

Diver Pierluigi Mazzardi said: "They were in danger of drowning themselves. Saturday was a very sad day on the lake. It wasn't the best conditions for swimming at the time."

A coastguard official said the family were good swimmers, but added that lake rules advise people not to swim more than 160 yards out from the shore.

He added: "Beyond that, the waters are used by motor boats and can be dangerous."

A miniature submarine with a camera and pincer arm were used to locate Mr Wood's remains, 72ft below the surface, and pull him up.

The tragedy is the fifth drowning this year in Lake Garda.

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