Sep 9 2013
A British man and his fiancee who drowned while on holiday in Italy have been described by friends as well-loved members of their local church.
Andrew Sturgess, 34, is believed to have died while attempting to rescue Romania-born Carmen Spiridon, 25, after she got into difficulty while swimming off the coast of south-west Sicily.
The couple, reportedly found in the water a few yards apart, were members of the congregation at the Breathe City Church in Abbey Hulton, Stoke-on-Trent.
Mr Sturgess, who worked for a hydraulics company, began to attend the church in the summer of 2011, while his partner joined him soon afterwards.
Paying tribute to the couple, the church's associate pastor, Paul Jukes, said: "Andrew and Carmen were both active members of Breathe City Church and would regularly be seen welcoming people together at the door each Sunday morning.
"It was apparent that Andrew and Carmen were greatly in love and committed to one another. It is with great sadness that we have received this news and our thoughts and prayers are with their family and friends at this difficult time."
Mr Jukes added that the couple appeared to be "perfect for each other" and were both kind and sensitive.
Eyewitnesses to the deaths at Tre Fontane beach in the village of Campobello di Mazara said they had seen the couple playing safely in the water just moments earlier.
Local police officer Captain Fabio Manzo told Sky News: "The water was not rough at the time but from what we have established neither was a strong swimmer and there are awkward currents in the area.
"We think that perhaps one of them had got into trouble and that they had tried to save the other but sadly in the end, both died."