Latin America & Caribbean

Domingos Montagner death: Co-star reveals details of drowning

Actress Camila Pitanga during Sao Paulo Fashion Week Summer June 14, 2010 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Camila Pitanga is one of Brazil's most famous TV actresses

The Brazilian actress, Camila Pitanga, has described the events leading up to the drowning of the soap opera star, Domingos Montagner, last week.

Ms Pitanga told TV Globo on Sunday that she believed Mr Montagner had stopped her trying to save him as it would have endangered her.

Both actors had gone for a swim in the Sao Francisco river in Sergipe state after a day shooting the soap opera Velho Chico.

He was buried in Sao Paulo on Saturday.

Ms Pitanga said they had arranged to go swimming with other stars after the day's filming but it had ended up being just the two of them.

No progress

They had chosen a quieter part of the riverbank where they would not be overlooked and could have privacy from bystanders.

She said they had chosen a place where there were some rocks and the water seemed calm and deep. Mr Montagner had dived in but she had noted some eddies around the rocks.

Concerned that they might be pushed against the rock and scratch themselves, she suggested they swim back. They then realised that there was a strong current and they were making no progress.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Domingos Montagner was playing the lead role in Velho Chico. His co-stars say they will finish it in his memory

She managed to reach rocks around three metres away and called back to Mr Montagner.

Ms Pitanga said she realised he hadn't followed her and looking back saw he wasn't swimming and he appeared frightened.

She swam back twice to grab his arm and show him it was easy to reach the rock but he seemed paralysed and told her he couldn't do it. Ms Pitanga said she shouted to him to float and started to call for help as he went under the surface.

"I realise now that there was probably something trapping his leg. He didn't tell me because he didn't want to frighten me. I think he realised it would be difficult to save myself if I tried to help him."

Ms Pitanga said that she realised then that he couldn't swim because he was trying to hold himself up in the water.

"I saw his last look. He wasn't desperate, he was full of sadness. He was a man full of life and projects, looking forward to being with his wife and family."

She said the near-death experience had given her another chance.

"He gave me another chance to live, a second chance to be with my friends and family, to live. I will honour this."

Local police said there was little that anyone could have done.

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