Floral tributes have been left at the scene of a tragic incident that saw three boys lose their lives after plunging through ice into a freezing lake in Solihull. Police confirmed the three youngsters, aged eight, 11 and 12, had died in hospital after being pulled from the icy waters of Babbs Mill Lake on Sunday afternoon (December 11).
A fourth boy, aged six, is currently fighting for his life in hospital in Birmingham where he remains in a critical condition. Emergency services continue to search the lake, in Kingshurst, in order to piece together the circumstances surrounding what happened and be absolutely sure that everyone involved is accounted for.
Mourners flocked to the scene today to pay their respects to the young boys who died. People were seen laying numerous floral tributes, one which read “RIP angels”.
Teddy bears and Snowman toys were also placed at trees dotted around the lake. Witnesses described seeing a grief-stricken teenage girl sobbing “my brother, my brother!” as police officers consoled devastated relatives.
It is understood that the children had been playing on the lake before falling through the ice. One resident, who wished to remain anonymous, told a reporter how she heard children’s screams of “pure panic and fear” as the youngsters plunged into the icy lake.
She added: "I’m feeling numb. It’s just too close to home and absolutely heartbreaking. I heard the sound of children screaming and I knew it was bad. That sound will go with me to my grave.
"There was pure panic and fear. I just heard such a commotion and then the most emergency services I’ve ever seen in my life arrived.”
Dan Hall was one of the residents who rushed to the scene to help. The 38-year-old said: "It was at like 2.40pm when I heard the sirens. It’s quite common to hear sirens around here but when you’re hearing a lot more you start to worry.
"I ran down to where it was and there was a girl on a bike about 13 with a younger girl, I presume her sister. I asked her, `What’s going on?’ and she said there were some kids on the lake and said ‘my brother my brother’.
"She was hysterical. The older one was saying to her ‘Don’t think like that’. I saw a police officer walking up and he was drenched. You just feel helpless.”
West Midlands Police held a press conference at the scene this afternoon. Superintendent Richard Harris told reporters: “We have to be 100% certain that there is no one else possibly in the water at this time.
“It’s important to stress though that we’ve had no contact from anybody suggesting that there’s anybody else missing but until we’re 100% certain we will be carrying on searches throughout the course of today.”
A spokesperson for the force said: "We’ve been working alongside colleagues from the fire and ambulance services as we do all we can to support those involved. Searches of the lake are continuing as we seek to establish exactly what happened and if anyone else fell into the water.”
The force added that it understood “how distressing” the incident was for families and the wider community, and asked people not to speculate or share video footage at this time.
Councillor Ian Court, leader of Solihull Council, released a statement this afternoon in which he said: "I cannot imagine what the families are going through. We will do everything we can to support the families in this terrible situation.
“We are so stunned at what has happened and we all need to work together to help those who have been affected.”
Local MP Saqib Bhatti also paid tribute: "We all feel the pain of this tragedy and will do so for some months and years to come. My understanding is that they were searching [for others], given the way it happened they needed to see if there was anyone else there.
"I heard the tragic news last night. It is hard to put into words. I know how close-knit the community is. I have a young child and I hugged them a little close last night. My heart goes out to the community. I feel very emotional."