NHS worker drowns in Greece while trying to save grandchildren swept out to sea

Jonathan Smith, 61, waded into the water to save the boys, aged seven and 10, when they began struggling in the waves before becoming trapped against the rocks

A grandad who drowned while desperately trying to save his grandkids after they got into difficulty off the Crete coast has been hailed a hero by his devastated son.

Jonathan Smith, 61, waded into the water to save the boys, aged seven and 10, when they began struggling in the waves before becoming trapped against the rocks.

The pensioner, from Carluke, managed to get the youngsters to safety on the craggy shore where a lifeguard and other bystanders hauled them to safety on Tuesday afternoon.

But rescuers were unable to save him and the coast guard arrived to find his lifeless body in the water.

His devastated son David has now paid tribute to his father, saying he was his “hero”.

He said: “I loved my dad very much. He is my hero.

“I still can’t believe I’m never going to see him again after he left to go on his holidays. It’s an unexpected tragedy.

“My family are still over there. I’ve not even asked any questions about what happened — I can’t deal with it. We’re just trying to get him home and have been speaking to the consulate.

“To be brutally honest I’ve struggled to ask my family the full story. I can’t face talking about it with them, especially when they are still over there.”

Mr Smith had been on holiday with his wife and daughter, the children’s mother, and was minding the boys when they went for a swim off the coastal village of Gouves, The Sun reports.

Witnesses say the grandad immediately jumped into the water when he saw his grandsons in trouble, before he too was forced against the rocks, reports local paper Neakriti.

He managed to push the boys towards bystanders before losing his grasp on the rocks and falling back in to the water.

Both boys were taken to hospital and treated for shock, but are not believed to have suffered any serious injuries.

One witness told Cretapost : “We were trying to pull him out but the currents were too strong and we couldn’t.

“With the help of the Coast Guard, the man’s body was eventually retrieved and taken to the boat.”

The Foreign Office has been contacted for a comment.