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I will forgive person who hit him – wife

Josianne Brignone should today be celebrating the 24th anniversary of her first date with her husband but instead she will be attending his funeral.

If the person who hit him knows it, I pray that God comforts him

A passionate snorkeller, Charles Brignone, 44, was hit by the propeller of a boat on Sunday at Marsascala, it emerged yesterday. His body was found on the seabed 24 hours after his wife last saw him alive.

But as the police search for the boat that killed him, his wife is ready to forgive its driver, hoping that what happened will serve as a lifesaving lesson to all.

“All I pray is that, whoever drives boats respects snorkellers so that another tragedy like this, which shatters a family, can be avoided. And I pray that snorkellers are responsible at sea…

“I will forgive the person who hit him. I don’t think he did it on purpose. If the person who hit him knows it, I pray that God comforts him,” she said.

Sitting in the living room of her mother’s house in Cospicua, Ms Brignone clutched photos of her husband of 19 years, as she gave a detailed account of the tortuous hours she had lived through on Sunday when he went out snorkelling and never returned.

The couple and their 15-year-old son, Romario, were on their annual camping trip at Żonqor.

On Sunday she woke up to the coffee her husband had prepared and, at about 9.45 a.m., he got ready to go snorkelling. He wanted to collect sea urchins for his sister.

“My son told him: ‘Take care dad,’ and he replied: ‘You take care too,’ and he walked away slowly,” she said.

She prepared some food for him and went for a swim, looking out for her husband’s float as she always did. In the past he had snorkelled for up to six hours at a stretch.

Meanwhile, at about midday, her son went to meet his friends in Birżebbuġa. She looked for the float again and this time she could not see it.

She prepared some food for him and waited. At about 1.30 p.m. she cast her eyes out to sea again – still nothing.

Meanwhile, a man who was camping nearby with his family noticed her looking restless, so he got into his van and drove along the shore trying to spot her husband.

Mrs Brignone didn’t want to panic and prayed to the Immaculate Conception to help her take things one step at a time.

The man returned and told her he had seen a float near the old Jerma Palace hotel but she thought this was impossible as her husband would never do something so dangerous as to venture out that far.

The man took her back to the spot and she looked through a pair of binoculars. “I had tears in my eyes but I was not convinced that the float I saw, so far away, was his. Perhaps it was a fishing net marker. But deep down, I knew.”

Then someone else looked through the binoculars and said it was a float with a flag.

Meanwhile, the man called for help and the search for her husband got underway. She described what his float looked like to some people who went out to bring it back – faded and with a green board attached to it – and it fit that description. She knew then that her husband was dead.

“I prayed to the Immaculate Conception to give me the strength and courage to face what was about to come upon me.” The search was halted overnight and resumed at first light the next day, with both Armed Forces of Malta and Civil Protection Department underwater rescue teams combing the area. At 11.15 a.m. on Monday, Mr Brignone’s body was found underwater, lodged against a reef. An autopsy revealed he had died as a result of skull lacerations which sources said were compatible with those that would have been caused by a boat propeller.

The police are treating the case as involuntary homicide and are now searching for the boat.

“I can’t tell if the boat was close to the shore or if my husband was far out. God only knows,” she said adding that she was willing to forgive whoever hit him.

“My husband taught me that a bad deed is not solved by another bad deed,” she recalled with a smile, adding that he was not scared of death. He used to say death would reunite him with his mother whom he lost at the age of seven.

His father had then placed him in a children’s home, to ensure he had a good upbringing. From there he absorbed strong values which he hoped to pass on to his son.

“Before we used to leave the house he always said three Hail Marys to make sure we returned home safely… He always thought he would die young… I used to tell him: ‘What would I do?’ He said he’d pray for me.”

The funeral will take place today at 8.30 a.m. at the Immaculate Conception Church in Cospicua.

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