Search icon


12th Dec 2022

Solihull: Police describe heroic efforts of officer who tried to punch through ice to free drowning kids

Steve Hopkins

Police said they will continue searching the lake ‘for as long as it takes’

Police have described the heroic efforts of emergency workers who raced to the rescue of a group of children who fell into a lake in Solihull on Sunday, resulting in three deaths.

At a press conference on Monday, Richard Harris, of West Midlands Police, said officers “went into the lake itself to help rescue the children and to try and assist them as quickly as we possibly could” with one suffering mild-hypothermia after trying to “punch through the ice” to save them.

He said the officer and other emergency workers went in the icy waters without any specialist clothing or equipment, and “without any regard for their safety”.

Three boys aged eight, 10 and 11 were taken to hospital and placed on life support, but have since died. A fourth boy, aged six, remains in a critical condition, and on Monday was described as being “very poorly”.

The group are thought to have been playing on the ice in Babbs Mill Park in Kinghurst when the ice broke around 2.30pm.

Initial reports suggested six children were in the group, but Harris said police don’t believe anyone else is in the lake. Regardless, police will continue searching until they can be absolutely certain, he said, saying officers will remain at the scene “for as long as it takes”.

“Yesterday evening we had a number of different reports suggesting numbers of young people that may have been on the lake,” Harris said.

“Those reports don’t match the number of children. We have to be 100% certain that there is no one else in the water.”

He added there is “no suggestion” that there is anyone else missing.

Harris refused to confirm any further details about the boys at the request of their families who are  “absolutely devastated”.

“It is incredibly sad that we don’t not have any better news for you today regarding yesterday’s incident. We are deeply saddened by the death of three boys,” he told journalists.

Richard Stanton, West Midlands Fire and Rescue Area Commander, said the deaths were a “tragedy beyond words”.

He described the incident as a “stark reminder to us all” of the dangers of open water.

Stanton added: “Frozen lakes, ponds, canals and reservoirs can look picturesque but can be lethal.

“We would ask parents and carers to remind their children of the dangers of ice. Please help us to avoid this happening again.”

Stanton earlier said then when the fire service arrived at the scene they were told “there were up to six people in the water.”

“So after rescuing the four children, we have continued the search and rescue operation to confirm whether there were any more in the water.”

He said: “The specialist medical advice we have been given on the scene, given the temperature of the water, given the age of those who entered the water and the amount of time they have been in there, this would no longer be a search and rescue operation.”

Related links: