TRIBUTES have been paid to a London pastor who died with two of his children in a swimming pool in Spain on Christmas Eve.
Gabriel Diya, a pastor at the Redeemed Christian Church of God, in south-east London, drowned along with his nine-year-old daughter Comfort and 16-year-old son Praise-Emmanuel in the pool at Club La Costa World, on the Costa del Sol, while his wife and elder daughter tried to get help.
The trustees of his church described Mr Diya as a “loving husband and devoted father. . . Also a humble friend and committed pastor and Christian leader.”
Mr Diya’s wife, Olubunmi Diya, and 14-year-old daughter Favour issued a statement through the church, which is published on its Facebook page. In it, they deny initial media reports that the three could not swim. A lawyer for the family later said that they might call for a secondary investigation.
In her statement, Mrs Diya said that the whole family went to the pool together and the children were not left unattended at any time. She said: “I believe something was wrong with the pool and that must have made swimming difficult for them at that point in time.”
The operator of the resort, CLC World Resorts and Hotels, has denied this. It said in a statement: “The Guardia Civil have carried out a full investigation which found no concerns relating to the pool in question or procedures in place, which leaves us to believe this was a tragic accident which has left everyone surrounding the incident in shock.”
The police have said that they believe the investigation into the deaths can now be closed, describing it as a “freak accident”.
But Mrs Diya’s lawyer, Javier Toro, told local media: “It’s not normal and very weird that three people died in the centre of a pool.
“The family is not satisfied with the interpretation of it being a simple accident.”
Mrs Diya said that the family were “utterly heartbroken . . . but we are comforted and strengthened by our strong faith in our Lord Jesus Christ”.
A fundraising page has been set up for the family.