PATONG: A 22-year-old Malaysian tourist who was a national-level swimmer for his country drowned Tuesday afternoon at Patong Beach. Chan Oy Lye, 21, identified the victim as her boyfriend, Chew Hoo Hao. The couple had arrived in Phuket with two other friends just a few hours before the accident took place. The four friends had checked into the Panorama Hotel in Patong around noon, and went swimming after lunch. Ms Chan said that a red flag might have been flying, but she couldn’t recall seeing one. Ms Chan said she had confidence in her boyfriend’s swimming ability, so the two had swum out farther than another friend. “The waves were not so big at first, but then suddenly the wind picked up and the waves got a lot higher. They were so strong, and we kept getting pushed under the water and couldn’t breathe. “I tried swimming back to shore but couldn’t manage it. My boyfriend tried to save me by pushing me toward the beach. I kept getting hit by waves, but shouted for help whenever I came to the surface,” Ms Chan told the Gazette. Ms Chan said that she saw two or three lifeguards on the beach when they first arrived there. However, the men were no longer around when her friend, who was on the beach, looked for help. Two Westerners finally pulled the couple from the water. “But it was too late for Hoo Hao. I remember seeing him lying next to me on the sand and I fell unconscious after that. The nurse at the hospital told me he died before the tourist carried him out of the water,” Ms Chan added. Hoo Hao’s parents flew in from Malaysia yesterday to pick up their son’s body for cremation. Kata Beach had its share of tragedy as well – a young Thai man from Bangkok drowned there yesterday. At the request of the victim’s parents, the police declined to release any information about the incident.
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