A BRIT dad feared to have drowned after leaping into Lake Garda to save his 14-year-old son while holidaying in Italy has been hailed a “hero”.
A huge search has been launched to find Aran Chada, 51, who disappeared after diving into the country’s largest lake to rescue the teen, according to the Sunday Times.
The sales director had been enjoying a boat trip to celebrate his upcoming birthday with his partner, son and seven-year-old daughter when disaster struck.
They were around 500m from shore on the rented pleasure boat when Aran noticed the teen had got into trouble in the water.
The courageous dad was able to save the youngster and get him back to the vessel, where his frantic mother Holly Mosley, 39, dragged him back on board.
But Aran then slipped beneath the surface after “perhaps suffering a seizure” as his horrified family watched on, coastguard commander Antonello Ragadale said.
The mum’s screams for help alerted other boats and a coastguard unit which raced to the scene by the lakeside town of Limone.
A team of rescue boats, helicopters, divers and even a robot submarine were deployed to Lake Garda to help locate Aran.
They spent hours searching the lake, which is up to 300m deep in some places, but found no trace of the 51-year-old.
Rescue efforts continued late into Friday night as Holly and her two children, who live in a village near Loughborough, Leicestershire, anxiously waited for an update on Aran.
Ragadale continued: “This man was a hero and we fear he drowned, but we’re doing everything we can to find his body.
“This is a real tragedy, and the desperation in their faces was evident.
“He did what any father would have done for his son.”
Strong winds and an incoming storm have impacted the search efforts at the tourist hotspot, but rescuers vowed they “won’t stop looking” for the dad-of-two.
Coastguard Ragadale said the teams were “pressing on for as long as it takes so we can give some comfort to the poor woman and her children”.
Aran – who is reported to be a company director in the oil industry and was set to celebrate his birthday next Tuesday – was staying at the nearby four-star hotel Hotel du Lac et Du Parc at Riva del Garda.
He and his family reportedly regularly visit Italian lakes, with Holly sharing sweet snaps of their trips on social media.
This is a real tragedy, and the desperation in their faces was evident. He did what any father would have done for his son.
It’s feared the hero Brit dad will be the third person to drown at Lake Garda in just a week after two men – aged 36 and 41 – died in separate incidents.
An eyewitness told local media: “We were about 100m from the shore when we heard a woman screaming for help.
“I looked over and she was on a boat with two children shouting and pointing to the water so we called the emergency services and they were there very quickly.”
Lake Garda is a popular tourist spot in northern Italy known for its breath-taking scenery and dramatic mountain landscape.
Brits flock to the plush spot every year and former PM Theresa May is known to be a regular visitor.
A coastguard spokesman said: “The family has rented a boat from a local company for two and a half hours and were due to return it a little before the accident.
“The man dived in to save his eldest child who was in difficulty and he managed to push him back towards the boat but he then got into trouble.
“It was very hot on Friday afternoon but the water was a good ten degrees colder so it’s possible he could have had a seizure due to the thermal shock.
“The search went on for almost seven hours and stopped when it got dark but has now resumed. The family are in their hotel with police and a psychologist has been offered to them for support.”
A Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office spokesperson said the department was supporting the man’s family and were in contact with Italian police.