TRIBUTES have been paid to a Torquay dad-of-five who died in rough seas off Torquay.
The Torbay lifeboat crew tried to resuscitate Kevin Lewis (pictured), 44, when he was discovered face down in the water near the Pier Point restaurant just after 8pm on Tuesday, January 29.
His fiancee, Donna Green, said Mr Lewis was 'always there for anyone who needed him'.
"He wasn't just my fiance, he was my best friend," she said.
"He was a kind man who had so many friends."
Torbay and South Devon coroner Ian Arrow recorded an open verdict at an inquest into his death.
He said: "It is not clear how Kevin came to be in the sea. It was dark and there was a strong wind blowing and the fact he had consumed alcohol must have contributed in some way to him finding himself in the sea."
Mr Arrow said he was satisfied Mr Lewis, from Tramways in Plainmoor, had not tried to harm himself.
The inquest was told Mr Lewis had been drinking all day.
Ms Green tried to contact him by phone and on one occasion heard the wind howling in the background.
The next time she called, the phone was answered by a police officer.
Electrician Wayne Walker was one of the first to raise the alarm.
He was out with his wife walking the dog when another man rushed up to him saying there was a man in the water.
In a statement, Mr Walker said: "I went with him to the promenade and I could see a man in the water about 20metres from the railings. He was floating on his back but he was being buffeting by the sea lapping over his face and body.
"I heard him shout help on three occasions, we were shouting back to him 'hold on, we'll get help'."
He called emergency services and repeatedly threw out the life ring to the man but he was facing down and unresponsive in the water.
The sea was too rough and dangerous to attempt a rescue and the lifeboat was called to find Mr Lewis.
The crew and ambulance staff tried to resuscitate him but he died in Torbay Hospital later that evening.
A post-mortem revealed he had almost three times the legal drive limit of alcohol in his blood.
The coroner recorded the cause of death as drowning.
Ms Green said: "I would like to thank everyone for their kindness. The police and hospital staff have just been amazing.
"The funeral director Kevin Lack and his staff have been so kind. His wake was so busy with friends. I'd like to thank the Castle in Torquay for putting it on."