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Daily Record
Daily Record
Richard Vernall & Ryan Merrifield & Lynn Love

Four boys died after falling through frozen lake then spending 20 minutes under ice

An inquest has heard how four young boys tragically drowned after falling through a frozen lake, before spending 20 minutes under the ice while they were 'playing'.

Brothers Samuel Butler, 6, and Finlay Butler, 8, passed away along with their cousin Thomas Stewart, 11, and Jack Johnson, 10, on December 11. The youngsters were rescued from Babbs Mill Lake, in Kingshurst, Solihull, near Birmingham, and rushed to hospital after reports of them getting into difficulty.

It was reported on Monday Finlay, Thomas and Jack had died, while Samuel passed away in hospital on Wednesday. At a vigil over the weekend hundreds more people brought candles, bouquets, children’s toys, and balloons to the spot, as people struggle to deal with the scale of the loss, reports the Mirror.

(West Midlands Police)

An initial inquest hearing, held today in Birmingham, was told three of the boys were rescued after 22 minutes in the water, while a fourth was pulled from the lake after 31 minutes.

Senior Coroner for Birmingham and Solihull Louise Hunt described the circumstances as a “devastating tragedy”, as she opened and adjourned the four inquests.

Earlier, she heard Jack, from Kingshurst, and Thomas, of Shard End, Birmingham, were identified by their parents at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, and the two brothers; Finlay and Samuel, also both from Kingshurst, at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

She also heard evidence from Dy raised the alarm and the subsequent “heroic efforts” of the emergency services to save the boys.

Mr Edmonds said: “West Midlands Police first contact at 2.34pm on Sunday December 11, reporting four children playing on a frozen lake at Babbs Mill Park had fallen through the ice, into the water.

“Further calls were received from other members of the public, also reporting children had fallen in to the water, but with some variance as to the number of children involved.

“Emergency services responded at pace and at arrival it became quite apparent this was a major incident and there were numerous members of the public at the location, reporting children had tragically fallen under the water.”

He added the police as well as West Midlands Fire Service and West Midlands Ambulance Service attended.

Turning to the rescues, Mr Edmonds said: “The first three boys were located and brought to the bank at 2.56pm, the same day, and approximately nine minutes later a fourth was rescued from the water.

“Emergency CPR was performed on the children at the scene and they were taken to local hospitals where they received further treatment,” he said, adding the boys were at this stage identified.

Mr Edmonds said: “Despite the heroic efforts of everybody involved, all four boys have sadly passed away.”

Jack and Thomas died later on December 11, Finlay, the next day, and his brother on December 14, he added.

He added that “all children involved have been accounted for”.

“A police investigation is ongoing on behalf of the coroner to establish the facts of the boys’ attendance at the lake and also how they fell into the water,” said Mr Edmonds.

Pictured tape and metal barriers around Babbs Mill Lake, Kingshurst, Solihull on Friday (Darren Quinton/Birmingham Live)

Setting an inquest to be heard on July 6, next year, Ms Hunt said: “The scope of the inquest will be to look at the circumstances leading to the deaths and the cause of death.”

She added the inquest would hear a pen portrait of each little boy from a family member, overviews from each of the three emergency services involved about their responses, together with evidence of the hospital care given.

“I think, in respect, it is fair to say they very sadly died from the effect of drowning.”

Having set out the initial cause of death, she added “no post-mortem would be required – to preserve the dignity and respect of each little boy”.

She addressed her closing remarks to the boys’ families, none of whom were physically present in court, and said: “I’d like to offer you all my sincere condolences

(Joseph Walshe / SWNS)
(Getty Images)

“Your boys’ deaths are a devastating tragedy for you all and it is difficult for us all to comprehend the pain and grief you all must feel at this terrible time.

“In due course, I hope the inquest will help you understand what happened, including the valiant attempts by the emergency services to save the boys.”

She called for the families’ privacy to be respected so they might process their loss, and be able to grieve.

Finlay, Samuel and Thomas' family paid tribute to their "beautiful boys", saying they are "devastated" at their loss.

Thomas’ older brother also remembered his sibling as a "lively little soul" and cousin "who loved dinosaurs so much".

In a statement released by police, the parents said: “As a family we are devastated at the loss of our beautiful boys Tom, Fin and Sam in such tragic circumstances.

(Rowan Griffiths / Daily Mirror)

"We would like to thank the emergency services for all they did in rescuing the boys and to the community for their support, it has been overwhelming.

“We would like to pass on our condolences to Jack’s family at this very sad time, and ask for privacy from the media to begin to grieve.”

Thomas' brother previously wrote: “Thomas was such a lively little soul, he had a big heart for such a young kid and he was so beautiful.

"He loved being outside playing with his mates.

"I love you Tom, big bro will take care of the family and I will see you soon. Make sure you keep practising on warzone and get a win, will you?

“Can’t forget about my dinosaur man Fin, he loved dinosaurs so much and always showing me new things he built on Minecraft and all the new stuff he learnt on it. Gonna miss you little man.”


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