A GIANT wave claimed the life of a Huddersfield man on Blackpool seafront.
Darren Valvona, 32, was swept to his death after a night out at the west coast resort.
Mr Valvona was hit by a freak 30ft wave which lashed the promenade on the Golden Mile.
He had stopped to eat a kebab at 2.30am on Saturday with a friend, Huddersfield bar manager Sol Nicolau, but was caught by the high spring tides.
The giant wave broke over the sea wall and dragged him into the sea.
His horrified friend rang emergency services immediately and a rescue mission was launched.
A police helicopter and a lifeboat crew spent more than two hours searching for Mr Valvona before his body was found washed up on a nearby beach just before 5am.
Mr Valvona lived in Paddock with his partner of nine years, Melissa Fieldhouse.
She said: "Darren was Darren. He would do anything for anybody and was a lovely man."
Mr Valvona came from a large family of Italian origin.
His parents, Ted and Denise, live in Lockwood.
Mr Valvona was one of five children. His siblings were Charlotte, Lisa, Andrew and Tony. Younger brother Tony died of an overdose.
Other members of the family live in the Portsmouth area and were all close to Darren.
His cousin, Mrs Jackie Blake, said: "He was a loveable rogue.
"Darren was a small man with a big heart and would do anything for anyone, particularly if they were in trouble.
"He was the life and soul of any family party and his death is tragic news for everyone."
The Blackpool area was experiencing tides which were the biggest of the year.
The waves were believed to be at their peak when they snatched Mr Valvona.
Coastguard spokesman Paul Harrison said: "The very high tides were made worse by strong winds.
"Once swept into the water it is very difficult to get out, because the sea wall is curved and slippery."
After the call to the emergency services from Mr Nicolau
Liverpool Coastguards - who co-ordinated the search - immediately called out Coastguard search teams from Blackpool, Lytham St Annes and Fleetwood.
They also asked for Blackpool's RNLI inshore lifeboat to be launched.
The police helicopter also helped the search and fire brigade teams used their thermal imaging equipment.
Mr Harrison, of Liverpool Coastguard, said: "This man was found at 4.45am on Saturday, tragically deceased, by a Coastguard from Lytham St Annes.
"It is such an unfortunate tragedy.
"The weather at Blackpool was southwesterly force five to seven, rain and drizzle, with spring tides.
"We would warn all members of the public to stay away from piers and esplanades where the waves are breaking over them.
"Large tides are powerful elements."