16/09/2016 14:50 BST | Updated 16/09/2016 15:28 BST

Domingos Montagner: Brazilian Soap Star Drowns On Set Of Velho Chico

'They thought they had chosen a safe spot to swim'

A Brazilian soap opera actor drowned in a river after witnesses who believed he was filming for a show reportedly ignored cries for help.

Domingos Montagner had gone for a swim on Thursday afternoon in the Sao Francisco River in Caninde, a small town in the northeastern state of Sergipe, with fellow actress Camila Pitanga.

Pitanga said Montagner was dragged away by strong currents and that her shouts for help were initially dismissed because locals believed it was a scene from the Velho Chico soap he starred in.

Jose Aparecido Cardoso, director of the state Legal Medical Institute, told the G1 news channel on Friday that Montagner’s body was found 60ft below the surface and 1,000ft from where he was last seen.

“They thought they had chosen a safe spot to swim, but that is one of the most dangerous areas in the town of Caninde and usually avoided by locals,” police chief Antonio Francisco Filho told O Globo.

Montagner’s body was found by rescue teams four hours after the incident, the BBC reports. 

The 54-year-old Montagner starred in the soap opera as a farmer who often had to fight off gunmen. In one scene, he was shot multiple times and appeared to drown in the same river, only to reappear in the show weeks later.

Globo TV produces the series and confirmed the crew had been shooting in the area.

Montagner had been married for 14 years to actress Luciana Lima, with whom he had three children.

His latest film, Um Namorado para Minha Mulher, A Boyfriend For My Wife, was released just this year. 

Pedro Agoas/CON via Getty Images
Domingos Montagner walks a catwalk with Cléo Pires in 2013