Tributes have been paid yesterday to a university professor who died while attempting to rescue his brother off the coast of a seaside resort.
Brave Chris Beling, 54, swam out to try and rescue his sibling after he got into difficulties in the sea at Preston Sands in Devon.
But Chris suffered heart failure as he made his way out, whilst his younger brother Jeremy was able to reach the shore safely.
Friends and family managed to drag him from the sea and give him first aid treatment on the beach before paramedics arrived, but he could not be resuscitated.
Chris, a professor of physics at the University of Hong Kong, was then pronounced dead at the scene at around midday on June 18.
His son John, a second year physics student, described his father as a ”passionate” lecturer who encouraged his students to debate matters of science and faith.
John said: ”My dad not only taught his students with passion, but also wanted them to think critically about and challenge their beliefs.
”My dad always made time for his students and sometimes there would be very little family time together. But when we did have it, we appreciated the time we had with him.
”He loved us so much because he really always had our interests in mind, and always told me the importance of making time for others.”
Professor Beling grew up in Torquay, Devon, and later moved to China where he was assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong for 23 years.
A devout Christian, he was interested in the theory of intelligent design – the assertion that that physical systems and living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, rather than natural processes.
John added: ”He always tried to voice his opinion on the subject and try to bridge the gap between Christianity and science, believing that science and Christianity were not in conflict with one another.
”We have received many messages and phone calls after the news of dad’s death reached his students.
”They all said what a passionate professor and lecturer he was, and how much they appreciated his openness for discussion inside and outside lectures.
”My dad fought for Jesus all his life and is now with him in Heaven. I am so proud of my dad, and what he has achieved and the many people’s lives he has touched.”
The father-of-two, who also leaves a widow, Evelyn, had returned to the seaside resort to visit family when the tragedy happened.
A large group of friends and family had been at Preston Sands, where Chris’s parents own a beach hut, and witnessed the incident.
Chris died at the scene despite the efforts of his daughter Cathy, who tried to revive him as the family waited for paramedics to arrive.
A spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency described the incident as ”tragic”.
He said: ”On arrival at the scene we found two casualties, one suffering from water inhalation and one who was unconscious. Tragically, the unconscious man could not be resuscitated.
”It appears one of the men had gone swimming and got in to difficulty which prompted the other to enter the water.
”Both men were brought ashore by members of their family who were on the beach at the time. This is a tragic incident.”
A spokesman for the Devon coroner’s office said an inquest will not be held as the death was by natural causes.