Community rallies to support family of Dan Cojocea, who died while swimming on the Eyre Peninsula

A woman is remembering her brother as a “hero”, saying he saved the lives of two of his children as well as the daughter of his best friend after they were caught in a rip at a regional beach in South Australia last week. 

Dan Cojocea, 43, was among a group of people who were caught in a rip while swimming at Mary Ellis Beach, south-west of Port Lincoln on Friday.

Emergency services were able to rescue six people, including four children.

Police previously said two of the children, aged between nine and 12 years old, were Mr Cojocea’s.

Following a four-day aerial and ocean search, police confirmed on Monday morning that Mr Cojocea’s body had been found at Sleaford beach, near where he went missing.

Within hours of the discovery Lidia Panait, Mr Cojocea’s sister, launched a fundraiser online to support her brother’s wife and children.

Dan Cojocea with his wife Alina.(Supplied: GoFundMe)

Ms Panait included a heartfelt tribute to her brother on the GoFundMe page, describing him as a “selfless” man who “impacted so many lives in the best way”.

“To say we are heartbroken is an understatement,” she said.

“We cannot believe that such a beautiful, kind, funny and generous human that we call father, son, brother and uncle is no longer with us earth-side.

“We find comfort in knowing that we will meet again one day in heaven.”

So far, the fundraiser has raised more than $70,000 in less than 24 hours.

Mr Cojocea, who was from Roxby Downs, is a father-of-four and one of 13 siblings. 

Ms Panait wrote how her brother had saved three children, including two of his own, after they got caught in the rip.

“You died a hero Dan, proving the selfless man you were,” she said.

“Even in his final hour of life by saving his own two sons and best friend’s daughter from the rip waters before being swept out to sea himself.

“You will be forever in our hearts, never forgotten, always loved.

“Heaven has gained another soul.”

On Saturday, Mr Cojocea’s other sister Camelia Cantell said the family were all hoping for “a one-in-a-million miracle” and thanked emergency service crews for their assistance in the search. 

Ms Cantell said her brother loved holidaying on the Eyre Peninsula and was a strong swimmer.

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