The family of a British man who drowned in Spain while trying to save his dog are fundraising to help bring him home.
Paul Lebihan, from Gateshead, died on Monday after getting into trouble in the Bolulla River near Benidorm.
The 25-year-old amateur boxer was in Spain visiting his fiancée, who he met on holiday about a year ago.
Mr Bell said his cousin, who was once in the Royal Navy, was “the happiest he’d ever been” after meeting his partner in Spain and travelling there regularly to visit her.
“I called him to catch up and he was asking me to come over for a holiday there. I wish I had now,” Mr Bell said.
“He was the happiest I’d seen him. He didn’t feel like it could get any better for him.”
Mr Bell said Mr Lebihan died after seeing his pet struggling in the river, which is close to the popular Fonts de l’Algar nature reserve in Costa Blanca.
“He saw the dog struggling and drowning, getting pulled in there by the current. He jumped in to save it and unfortunately passed himself.”
“We’re trying to stick together as much as we can and I started the GoFundMe page because I don’t want them to have the burden of raising that much money to bring him back,” Mr Bell said.
“Even when they get him back they’ve got to pay for the funeral, which is very expensive as it is.
“It raised over £9,000 in 36 hours since going up, which just shows how much he was loved and how much of a positive impact he had.”
The pair grew up in a close-knit family in Leam Lane, Gateshead, and Mr Bell said Mr Lebihan was “more like a big brother”.
“He was completely selfless and lived life to the full. Everything he did was just how he wanted to do it,” he added.