‘Amazing’ Brit, 25, dies saving pet dog from river near Benidorm

·3-min read
Paul Lebihan, from Gateshead, died on Monday after getting into trouble in the Bolulla River, near Benidorm. (Reach)
Paul Lebihan, from Gateshead, died on Monday after getting into trouble in the Bolulla River, near Benidorm. (Reach)

An "amazing and selfless" 25-year-old British man has drowned in Spain while rescuing a dog from a river.

Paul Lebihan, from Gateshead, died on Monday after getting into trouble in the Bolulla River, near Benidorm, after successfully freeing the dog from the current.

Lebihan, who had been living near the Costa Blanca resort with his fiancée for a year, was swept under the waves after rescuing the distressed animal.

His heartbroken family said they “can’t put into words” their devastation and are trying to bring his body back home.

Questions remain about the exact circumstances of Paul's death, and his mother Deborah has now flown out to Spain to collect his body.

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Paul Lebihan (left), mum Deborah Lebihan and Paul Lebihan Snr. (SWNS)
Paul Lebihan (left), mum Deborah Lebihan and Paul Lebihan Snr. (SWNS)

Paul's cousin, Kallym Bell, 19, said the former navy man had initially gone out to Spain for a holiday, but after meeting a girl, he had stayed and later made plans to marry her.

He said he’d received the heart-breaking news of Paul’s passing from a family member on Monday, adding that it was typical of him to “put others before himself”.

He is now helping Paul’s parents, Deborah and Paul Snr, raise the £15,000 needed to transport their only son’s body back to the UK and bury him.

Kallym, who set up a GoFundMe page, said: “There was no life insurance in place, and transporting the body back to England is very, very expensive.

“I didn’t want a burden on his mum, having to fork out thousands and thousands of pounds while grieving already for the death of her young son.”

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Paul was a former navy man and amateur boxer. (SWNS)
Paul was a former navy man and amateur boxer. (SWNS)

Kallym, a student from Gateshead, said the circumstances surrounding Paul’s death were still unclear.

He added: “It’s not clear if it was his dog or a dog – but there was a dog drowning under the current.

“He jumped in and saved the dog, but he got pulled under himself and ended up drowning.

“He loved animals. I’m his cousin, and we grew up with a dog, so it would have been his instinct to do so.”

Kallym said Paul had moved away from a “tight-knit” community in Gateshead.

He said: “He was only there temporarily on a holiday basis, and then found his future fiancée and he stayed with her for a while.

“I think he just wanted a change of life.”

Paul, a keen amateur boxer, grew up on an estate called Leam Lane, in Gateshead, and had joined the Navy in 2018, in his early 20s, before later leaving.

Kallym said locals are now in a state of "shock" at losing Paul at such a young age.

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