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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Matthew Cooper

Tearful police pay silent tribute to boys who died in ice-covered lake tragedy

PA Wire

Tearful police officers have been applauded by the public as they laid flowers near to where three boys died after falling into an ice-covered lake.

A group of 21 officers from West Midlands Police’s Chelmsley Wood neighbourhood policing team marched to the makeshift shrine, which has grown up near Babbs Mill Lake in Kingshurst in Solihull in the two days since the tragedy on Sunday.

The tight-knit community is still in shock since news broke on Monday that three boys – aged 11, 10 and eight – had died after being pulled from the water.

A fourth boy, aged six, remains in critical condition in hospital.

On Tuesday, a group of police officers arrived at the scene and held a two-minute silence before marching away, to claps from on-lookers.

The force’s officers were among the first rescuers on the scene and one had tried to punch through the ice to reach the youngsters.

Solihull Police also tweeted its “heartfelt thanks” to the community for its “overwhelming” support offered to all branches of the emergency services who attended the rescue and since.

It came as a relative of one of the boys who died has spoken of the unimaginable pain faced by the youngsters’ families.

The aunt of 10-year-old Jack Johnson, who is reported to have been trying to save others who fell into the water near Birmingham, used a social media post to thank members of the community for their support.

In a post on social media, Jack’s aunt, Charlotte McIlmurray, described the tragedy as a “nightmare”, adding “that two families can’t wake from the pain is unimaginable”.

“He (Jack) was my nephew, so I know the pain is a million times worse for their moms, dads, sisters/brothers,” she added.

Numerous bunches of flowers left near the scene included tributes from the emergency services, the NHS, local politicians, Marston Green FC and friends of the boys.

Birmingham City Football Club head coach John Eustace also laid flowers on Tuesday, on behalf of all those at the club.

Mr Eustace, who was born in Solihull, laid a floral wreath of blue and white at the foot of a tree which has become the focal point of mourning near Babbs Mill Lake.

The wreath had a card which read: “Sending our deepest condolences and love to those affected by this tragedy.

“You are in our thoughts. From everyone at Birmingham City Football Club.”

After laying the wreath, Mr Eustace stood for a moment, in silence, before leaving.

You will never be forgotten boys, our three Kings of Kingshurst.
— Floral tribute

People of all ages had continued to arrive throughout the day to pay their respects.

Some had brought children’s toys, or sweets, to leave, others had balloons or bouquets.

The messages on the hundreds of cards told their own story, with several addressed to the “Babbs Mill Boys”.

One read: “You will never be forgotten boys, our three Kings of Kingshurst.”

Several others had cards dedicated to Jack, while others paid tribute to another boy by name, saying: “To Thomas, The world will not be same without you” and “Thomas, rest in peace. Love from Earl”.

Among the dozens of teddy bears, was one with the message: “RIP beautiful angels.”

Earlier, specialist dive teams had continued combing the lake, although West Midlands Police has stressed there are no reports of any other children missing, and the searches are thought to be in order to assist in piecing together the circumstances of what happened.

The divers came out of the water after lunchtime and later left the scene, which is still closed off to the public by a large cordon and police tape.

West Midlands Police said earlier in a statement: “Our searches at Babbs Mill lake in Kingshurst will continue today.

“The six-year-old boy remains in hospital in a critical condition. We will release further updates as soon as we are able.”

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