Solihull lake tragedy: Boys, 6 and 8, who perished in icy water were brothers - all four victims named locally
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All four children who perished in the Solihull frozen lake tragedy have been named locally - including two brothers and their cousin. Finlay Butler, age eight, and his brother Sam Butler, six, along with their 11-year-old cousin Thomas Stewart, are understood to have gone to feed the ducks at Babbs Mill Lake when the ice gave way and they plunged into the freezing water.
The fourth victim has been named as Jack Johnson. The 10-year-old has been hailed a “hero” after he rushed onto the ice to help the three boys and fell into the lake. Finlay, Thomas and Jack all died on Sunday in hospital but Sam fought for his life in intensive care before he lost his battle yesterday (Wednesday, December 14).
The boys, who lived in the area, are thought to have suffered cardiac arrest. It has emerged that one of the boy’s dad’s frantically waded into the lake with a dog walker to try and rescue the children before the emergency services arrived on Sunday afternoon (December 11).
A candlelit vigil was held for the boys on Tuesday, attended by devastated members of the Solihull communities who have placed a mountain of flowers, teddy bears and Snowman toys at trees around the lake. Aston Villa footballers Tyrone Mings and John McGinn laid a wreath on behalf of the club as well as Birmingham City manager John Eustace.
Friends have now set up a Gofundme page to raise funds for the grieving families of the “Babbs Mill Princes”, which has already smashed its £10,000 target within 16 hours of being set up. Organiser Sharon Doyle said the boys had fallen through the ice after “forgetting the dangers taught by their parents’ before young Jack heroically tried to save them”.
She added: "Our hearts are broken for the four Little Princes. No parent expects to lose their children so young, and sadly, no amount of money would ever place them back in our arms, but with our help, we can hopefully ease the worry of the financial costs they will need to meet.
"This tragedy is heartbreaking, has brought a community together, and has affected people’s hearts worldwide. Condolences go out to all three families and their relatives."
In a joint statement, the parents of Finlay, Sam and Thomas said: “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, 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’ older brother paid tribute to him and his cousin ahead of the sad news that Sam had died. He 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.”
West Midlands Police confirmed yesterday the search for any other people in the lake had now been called off following the fourth boy’s death. A force spokesperson said: "It is with heartfelt sadness that we have to report this afternoon, the six-year-old in hospital has lost his fight for life.
"Our deepest sympathies are with the families and friends of those involved in this tragedy. We cannot comprehend the enormity of the pain they must feel and our hearts go out to them.
"Specialist officers remain in contact with the family and we will issue further information as soon as we can. The searches have been completed and the scene of the incident at the lake will be lifted this evening."