11 Aug, 2023 @ 11:46
2 mins read

British expat, 32, drowns while snorkeling in Ibiza: Thousands are raised to return body of much-loved teacher home as tributes pour in

A FUNDRAISER has been launched for the family of a beloved British expat who drowned while snorkeling in Ibiza when he went to “grab a handful of sand” from the bottom of the sea. 

Martin Smith, 32, was seen floating in the water in Cala Jondal at around 3pm on Friday, August 4. 

Andrew Gibson, 42, desperately tried to rescue his friend, who he described as an “incredible person” who has “left a positive memory” for everyone.

Speaking to the PA Real Life, he explained how Martin, affectionately known as Percy or Storm, was a “passionate freediver” who was seen diving in and out of the water on the day of his death, before it was noticed that he was no longer moving. 

Martin did not have any insurance in place meaning his family have been left with a huge bill to bring him home, the GoFundMe page says. 

Wellwishers have already donated more than €12,000 through the site while leaving heartfelt messages. 

TRAGIC: Martin Smith, 32, was seen floating in the water in Cala Jondal at around 3pm on Friday, August 4. Paramedics could not revive him (CREDIT: Facebook)

“If you met Martin even once, you remember him,” said one friend of the Londoner, who spend his winters teaching English and working for charities in Vietnam. 

He would return to Ibiza for the summer seasons, where he lived in Platja d’en Bossa. 

He tragically died just days before his 33rd birthday, his friend Andrew said. 

The pair and a few other mates had rented a boat in Vila port before anchoring in the popular Cala Jondal – where even Princess Kate and Prince William have holidayed in the past. 

Andrew said they decided to stop and have lunch, adding that the sea was calm with up to 30 boats in the area. 

“Martin was passionate about diving. It’s something he had been doing for years, in Thailand and Vietnam, all over the world,” explains his friend.

He said Martin was “in and out of the boat about 10 or 12 times,” and that “he just wanted to hit the bottom and grab a handful of sand.”

However shortly after 3pm, one of the women on their boat saw him floating in the water.

“We saw the snorkel sometimes go underwater, but no air was blowing, so we knew something was wrong,” Andrew said. 

Three men from the boat desperately jumped into the water to try and save Martin, who was 30 metres away from them. 

He was brought onto the boat but was no longer breathing and had no pulse. His friends performed CPR until emergency services arrived. 

They managed to get his pulse back after 10 minutes but it was very weak, and the paramedics did not arrive by jetski until up to 25 minutes later. 

The professionals attempted to revive him with adrenalin and a defibrillator but it was too late to save him. 

Tragically, it is not the first friend Andrew has lost to freediving, he revealed, adding that people who practice the sport can overestimate the amount of oxygen in their lungs and pass out, which is what he believes happened to Martin. 

Esmae Palmer, the organiser of the GoFundMe appeal, said: “On the 4th August, 10 days before Percy’s 33rd birthday, the same ocean he loved and spent the last decade of summers in, took his spirit and soul. Percy was loved by so many of us all over the world: forming huge families in Ibiza, England and Vietnam.”

She added: “We all have the fondest memories of Percy/Martin/Storm and his spirit will definitely live on through all of us forever. We need to return his beautiful body back to England to be with his family. Causing us trouble ( in true Martin spirit) he didn’t have any form of insurance to cover anything. His family are left with a huge bill to return his body to England in order to have the send-off he deserves. We truly appreciate any donation to help return Percy to rest.”

Laurence Dollimore

Laurence has a BA and MA in International Relations and a Gold Standard diploma in Multi-Media journalism from News Associates in London. He has almost a decade of experience and previously worked as a senior reporter for the Mail Online in London.

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