AN experienced scuba diver died from drowning despite being pulled from the sea alive, an inquest heard.

Helen Fleming, 47, of Acle Meadows, Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, got into difficulty approaching the shore on the island of Tenerife, while on holiday on July 29.

She had been diving with her husband and their son and they had removed their scuba equipment.

Mrs Fleming was overcome by the waves while making her way to the beach.

An inquest at Chester-le-Street Magistrates' Court yesterday heard that she collapsed in water that was only knee deep.

He husband, Colin, said: "The surf was breaking and the waves were knocking her over. She was never knocked flat, but she was struggling to stand. She was fatigued.

She appeared to come over all faint and the water went over her." Mr Fleming raised the alarm and two men helped him get his wife out of the water and called an ambulance.

He said: "She was breathing quite heavily. I assumed she would recover quite soon because she was quite fit and people who are fit get their breath back quite quickly.

"Ten minutes after being in the water, she stopped blinking. I looked in her eyes and I knew what was happening. She had stopped breathing." Mr Fleming, who is trained in first aid, carried out resuscitation in an attempt to save his wife for 30 minutes while waiting for the emergency services.

She was taken to hospital where Mr Fleming was informed she had died.

Her body was repatriated by the Spanish authorities and a post mortem examination was carried out by Home Office pathologist Dr Paul Barrett, who confirmed the cause of death was drowning. He said her death was not connected to the fact she had been scuba diving.

Dr Barrett said: "It has got more to do with fatigue and the need to get out of the water and becoming unable."

Coroner Andrew Tweddle recorded a verdict of accidental death. He said: "It is a very bizarre set of circumstances."