Neighbours pay tribute to drowned Redeemed pastor: They’re ‘really nice people’
Tributes have continued to pour in for Pastor Gabriel Diya, 52, who died after reportedly getting into the water when he saw his nine-year-old daughter Comfort in distress inside a Spanish resort swimming pool on the Costa del Sol.
His son, Praise-Emmanuel, 16, also died at the Club La Costa World Holiday resort in Spain.
Mr Diya’s Facebook account lists him as a pastor at Open Heavens London, a Christian group attached to the fast-growing Redeemed Christian Church of God with origins in Nigeria. Open Heavens is based in Charlton, south-east London.
It is part of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, which posted on Facebook: “With heavy hearts, we extend our condolences to the family, parish, friends and associates of Area Pastor Gabriel Diya who sadly passed away, along with two of his children… in a tragic incident while on a family holiday in Spain.
“At this very difficult time, our prayers are for Pastor Gabriel Diya’s family, the parishes that were under his supervision, friends, associates, members of RCCG and the general public.”
Spanish newspaper El Pais spoke to another of Mr Diya’s daughters, who told the news outlet that none of the trio could swim.
A neighbour of the family said she was “really devastated” to learn of the deaths, describing the Diyas as “very religious, very friendly, very humble”.
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.”
Emma Morris, 38, daughter of another neighbour of the Diyas, said her mother Pauline Morris, 64, knew them as “really nice people”.
She said: “They were just a really nice family, they spoke to everyone here. It’s so sad, it’s such a shame, ” she told the UK Standard
Local reports said Spanish police were investigating the pool pump for a possible failure, with a report in Malaga’s Diario Sur newspaper saying Comfort’s swimming cap was found in the pool’s suction system.
But inquiries have so far found “no concerns relating to the pool in question” and the incident appears to be a “tragic accident”, according to hotel operator CLC World Resorts and Hotels.
In a statement the firm said: “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.”
Local freelance journalist Gerard Couzens told the BBC the pool, at the resort near the town of Fuengirola, has since re-opened after being given the all-clear by Spanish police.
A witness said Mr Diya’s wife Olubunmi prayed as CPR was performed on her husband and children at the Mijas resort, near the town of Fuengirola, according to a report in The Mirror.
Father-of-three Josias Fletchman was quoted as saying: “The mum was praying for them to come back to life.
“She was calm. She was touching their bodies.
“She continued praying even after the ambulance people arrived and had stopped trying to revive them.”
It is understood Mr Diya and Comfort were British citizens, while Praise-Emmanuel was an American citizen.
Additional reporting by PA Media.