Tributes to Gwynedd airman in Cyprus speedboat crash

Image caption,
Senior Aircraftman Scott Hughes was due home the day after being hit by a speedboat

Tributes have been paid to a British airman who died after being hit by a speedboat while swimming in Cyprus.

Senior Aircraftman Scott Hughes, 20, from Y Felinheli, Gwynedd served with 1 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment.

The Ministry of Defence said he died after being hit by a power boat operated by the Military Training Wing at the Cyprus Sovereign Base Area.

He had been due to return home after a tour of Afghanistan but was on a stop-over at the base.

Senior Aircraftman Hughes died on Sunday following the incident on Friday, as his unit was undertaking decompression duties. He was due to return home on Saturday.

'Huge void'

In a statement his family, including parents Emma and Michael and younger brother Adam, said: "Our beautiful, brave, fun-loving son has been cruelly taken away from us, but we know that Scott fulfilled his dreams by serving his regiment and his country.

"Words cannot express the loss we as a family are feeling at this time and a huge void will be in our lives without Scott forever more."

In a statement, the MoD said: "Senior Aircraftman Hughes was returning from operations in Afghanistan and died from injuries suffered in a boating accident.

"While swimming in the sea he was struck by a power boat operated by the Military Training Wing, British Forces Cyprus. An investigation into the accident is taking place.

"His sense of humour endeared him to all and he quickly earned the respect and trust of his colleagues and peers alike.

'Calm professionalism'

"His calm professionalism and willingness to be involved at all times bore testament to his courage, determination and dedication to duty."

Defence secretary Dr Liam Fox said: "I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Senior Aircraftman Hughes in a tragic accident in Cyprus.

"He was returning home from what I understand to be a highly successful tour in Afghanistan, where he demonstrated to his colleagues and senior officers utter professionalism, courage and natural ability for his role as gunner.

"My thoughts go to his family and friends at this extremely sad time."

Wing Commander Paul Weaver Smith, Officer Commanding 4 Royal Air Force Force Protection Wing said Senior Aircraftman Hughes was a "highly respected and utterly professional young man with a very promising career ahead of him".

'Save others'

He added: "His tragic death has hit the Wing hard; our thoughts and prayers are with his family in this very difficult time."

Squadron Leader David Crook, Officer Commanding 1 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment, said he had spent his last six months risking his life to "protect and save others".

He added: "His death is a tragedy, and words cannot express our sense of loss and shock."

Image caption,
The incident happened on Friday within a sovereign base area (SBA)

Corporal Christopher Sheehan said: "I had the pleasure of working with Scott during our tour of Afghanistan.

"He was the top cover (machine gunner) in my vehicle and we were in the lead for every patrol.

"Throughout our time on tour, Scott was always full of morale and practical jokes, making life a little easier for everyone."

Senior Aircraftman Ross Merison, B Flight, 1 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment, said: "It was a great honour to work with Scotty, especially alongside him in Afghan over the past 6 months.

'Lifting morale'

"He was always lifting the morale of the boys by cracking jokes and having us in fits of laughter.

"He was such a professional gunner and would be the first to volunteer if a job needed doing."

Y Felinheli councillor Sian Gwenllian said the close-knit community would pull together to help his family.

"I knew him well because he was at school with my sons," she said.

"His mother works at the local primary school, so everybody knows Emma, and his father Michael is also very well-known and runs a house renovating business," she added.

The 20-year-old would be remembered for his "cheeky grin", she said.

Following the incident on Friday a man was interviewed in Cyprus, but is no longer in police custody.

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