Police in Spain have identified the three members of a Nigerian-British family who drowned in a hotel swimming pool on Christmas eve in the Costa del Sol region of Spain.
They were identified as Gabriel Diya, a 52 year-old London-based pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG); his son Praise-Emmanuel Diya, 16, and daughter Comfort Diya, nine.
According to The Guardian UK, they died at the Club La Costa World resort on the Spanish coast, about two miles to the south of Fuengirola and about 20 miles from Málaga.
Diya was the minister in charge at Open Heavens in Charlton, South East London, which is part of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG).
The Spanish police reported that Comfort got into difficulty while playing in one of the 21 swimming pools at the resort, her father and older brother jumped in to try to save her but also struggled in the water.
Despite poolside attempts to resuscitate them, all three died at the scene. A witness told the Mirror that Diya’s wife prayed as Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation(CPR) was performed on her husband and children.
Postmortem examinations carried out on Christmas Day confirmed death by drowning, Spanish police said.
A neighbour of the family described the Diyas as “very religious, very friendly, very humble” and said she was “devastated” by the news of the tragedy.
Speaking outside her home in Charlton, South East London, Lara Akins, 59, added: “I still can’t comprehend it, it’s still shocking. They are so nice, that is why everybody is shocked… we are very friendly with each other.”
After the incident police divers retrieved the girl’s swimming hat from the pool’s pump, but found nothing wrong with the pool’s filtration and pump system.
Staff from the resort told Spanish media that several employees had rushed to the poolside when they heard the screams for help, performing CPR and using defibrillators in an effort to revive Diya and the two children.
Reports claims Diya’s wife and the third sibling had been given psychological treatment, adding that investigators had paid particular attention to the pool’s filter system and taken samples of the water for analysis.
The resort management, which has opened its own internal investigation into the incident, denied any negligence and insisted there was “no problem with the pool which was totally fit for swimming.”
The pool did not have lifeguards on duty at the time of incident, according to local reports. It has since reopened to the public.
The UK’s central office of the RCCG described the death of Diya and his two children as a “tragic accident”.
In a Facebook post it said Diya is survived by another daughter and his wife, Olubunmi Diya, who is an assistant pastor at Open Heavens.
It said: “At this very difficult time, our prayers are with Pastor Gabriel Diya’s family, the parishes that were under his supervision, friends, associates, members of RCCG and the general public.”
Emma Morris, 38, daughter of another neighbour of the Diyas, said: “They were just a really nice family, they spoke to everyone here. It’s so sad, it’s such a shame.”
Mohsin Sharif said the Diya family would occasionally shop at his convenience store.
“I’m really feeling sad, it’s a good community, they speak to each other.”
Management at the resort said all the staff are “devastated by the tragedy.”
It said:“despite the best efforts of our first response team and the emergency services, the family could not be revived.”
In a statement, it added: “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.
“Naturally, our primary concern remains the care and support of the remaining family members; we would therefore request that their privacy be respected at this traumatic time.”
It was gathered that Gabriel Diya and Comfort were British citizens, while Praise-Emmanuel was an American citizen.