The six-year-old boy who was said to be gravely ill, but was the only one who had survived out of the four youngsters who fell into a lake, after the ice they were playing on gave way, has also now died, it was announced yesterday (14 December); and this tragic news was followed by the releasing of the names of all four children.
As reported earlier in the week, the lads had been on the “frozen” lake in Babbs Mill Park, in the Kingshurst area of Solihull, near Birmingham. Three of the boys aged 8, 10, and 11 all died shortly after arriving at hospital, after spending too long in the icy water to be revived. The fourth child, and the youngest, had been in a critical condition, and sadly he was unable to pull through and passed away without regaining consciousness.
Announcement made by Police
The West Midlands Police force announced that it was with “heartfelt sadness” it had to report that the little boy had “lost his fight for life”; whilst the Fire Service who were also heavily involved in the attempted rescue said they were “devastated” at hearing the news. They had remained at the scene with specialist diving teams searching for possible other victims, after some witnesses had said they believed that up to six boys had gone into the water; but nobody else was found and the cordon that had been in place, has now been lifted.
Four boys names released
Later on Thursday (15 December) the names of the four boys were released to the public. They were brothers Finlay Butler, eight, and his younger brother Samuel, six, along with their cousin Thomas Stewart, who was eleven. Jack Johnson who was ten, had already been named shortly after the incident last weekend.
Statement from the family
The family of the three related boys released a statement which read: “As a family we are devastated at the loss of our beautiful boys Tom, Fin and Sam in such tragic circumstances; we would like to thank the emergency services for all they did in rescuing the boys and to the community for their support, which has been overwhelming.” They also passed on their condolences to Jack’s family, before asking for privacy from the media to allow them to grieve.
St Anthony’s Catholic Primary School, where Jack was a pupil, said in a statement its community remained “in a state of shock” at the tragic news; before paying tribute to the young lad who had gone to the aid of the others after one of the younger boys had got his leg stuck in the cracked ice.
Head teacher Cieran Flaherty, said: “Jack was a loving, bubbly pupil with a heart of gold; and someone who would always check in on others and make sure they were doing OK” She continued: “He was a joy to teach and a child who we are all so very proud of. He was a ray of sunshine who would never fail to make us all smile; so we can only say thank you to him for brightening up our lives.”
Dr Toby Close, Associate Head Teacher at Park Hall Academy, spoke glowingly of Thomas who was a pupil at his school; saying: “Tom was a well-liked, caring pupil with real character who went out of his way to look after those around him.” He added that the young lad’s outgoing personality, energy, and wit shone through. “We will miss him brightening every day with his great sense of humour; he radiated a love for learning with his infectious smile and enthusiastic manner.”
Local football clubs show support
Mourners have continued to visit the site, with hundreds of cards and gifts left by the community and people paying their respects, with an easel board set up for people to write “messages to heaven”. Amongst the visitors were England footballer Tyrone Mings and his Aston Villa teammate John McGinn, who went to the scene to lay flowers.
Mings said it had impacted the whole city of Birmingham. “Sometimes there are things that happen which are far more important than football,” before stating that it was important to come along and pay their respects.
The manager of Birmingham City, John Eustace, had laid a wreath at the memorial on behalf of the team on Tuesday.
Solihull Moors Football Club who play in the English National League, which is the fifth tier of the pyramid of divisions, have said it will raise money for the families at its next two home fixtures.
PM praises efforts of emergency services
Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, sent his condolences to the families and friends of the boys and paid tribute to the emergency services for “their incredibly selfless actions”. Referring to the fact that several police officers had gone into the water risking their own lives to try and save the young children; including one particular officer who used his bare hands to punch through the ice to get to the boys.
Improved safety measures demanded by locals
Locals are calling for better safety at the lake with at the very least better signage put up, although fencing and cameras would appear to be of greater need; but sadly anything that is done will be too late for the four boys.
A second vigil for them is due to be held over the weekend.