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I LOVE YOU DAD; Last words of son who gave up lifejacket to save father.

A father told yesterday how the son who saved him from drowning shouted "I love you, dad" before swimming away to his death.

Stephen Cyster's boy Paul, 18, gave him his lifejacket as they struggled in freezing water after their boat capsized. Younger son David, 10, drowned. Speaking for the first time of the tragedy tearful Stephen, 40, of Bristol, said: "It all happened in seconds.

"I was going down in the water when Paul came up to me. He was shaking the hell out of me and shouting.

"We were both holding on to the lifejacket. The temperature of the water was minus seven, but I felt like I was on fire.

"Then Paul gave me the jacket. If I'd known what he was going to do, I wouldn't have let him.

"I heard him shout 'I love you, dad,' and he swam away. It was the ultimate sacrifice.

"I've contemplated suicide since. But then the sacrifice would have been meaningless."

Stephen - father of Sarah, eight, Ben, three, and Thomas, two - also told how a poignant Christmas card from David arrived last week, three months after the disaster.

It read: "To Mum, Dad, Tom, Ben, Sarah Sparky Jow and Pool (Paul). Have a good time. Happy Christmas. Love, David."

Mum Tracey, 33, said: "I was really angry because Paul couldn't see it. It was the first card David had ever sent. I'll always cherish it."

Tragedy struck in January after Stephen, his two sons and family pal David Sperring went on a fishing trip in the Bristol Channel.

The party tried to anchor their boat near Portishead pier. But the anchor snagged in rocks and in seconds the rising tide, second highest in the world, overturned the craft.

David was trapped in the cabin. His body was found 30 miles upstream in the Severn Estuary, ten days later.

Paul's body was recovered 10 weeks later nine miles away at Clifton.

Stephen, who was saved by fishermen, was treated for hypothermia. He spent three weeks in a psychiatric unit for post traumatic shock.

Yesterday, the Royal Mail apologised to the family over the late arrival of David's postcard. They pledged an investigation.
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Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Young, Sydney
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 9, 1997
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