Body found in search for schoolboy missing in River Thames

·3-min read
 (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

A body has been found in the police search for a schoolboy missing in the Thames.

Officers were called to the River Thames between Cookham and Bourne End on Monday about 3pm, to reports that a boy, believed to be aged 15, had entered the water but hadn’t been seen to leave.

Divers from Specialist Group International (SGI) said they worked through the night assisting Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service and Thames Valley Police in the search.

His next of kin has been informed.

Witness Naomi Hayward, 38, was by the river with her three children having a picnic when the boy arrived with a group of friends.

She told the Standard: “It’s like a little beach everyone goes there on a hot day to have picnics, my kids have been in the water, adults are always swimming in there and kayaking or canoeing - it was quite busy.

“The boys had a football and were doing headers but it was going everywhere so some of them said ‘shall we go back’ to get some space.

“Then he and two of the boys started going in the water.

“He was going ‘Oh f*** its so cold!’

“He didn’t want to go in past his waist. But his friends were splashing him and ‘saying come on let’s swim to the other side.’

“Three of them were by the buoy in the middle ducking in and messing about.

“There was no screaming or struggling, all of a sudden there was just two of them and a rescue boat telling them to get out of the water.

“I thought they had lost their phone because his friends kept on diving under the water.

“They came back to the shore and I could hear them saying ‘We think he’s drowned he didn’t come up over the side’. They were on their phones telling their families that they thought he had drowned.”

Police arrived to take statements from the group of ten friends - as a search and rescue helicopter and firefighters to look for the boy.

Ms Hayward added: “He was just out having a great time laughing and joking, just innocent boys having fun - they weren’t drinking or anything.

“It will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

“He didn’t want to go in the water but his friends were egging them on a bit. They were diving looking for him but had to get out for their own safety.

“If he couldn’t swim there is a really strong undercurrent as you get into the middle or he just panicked and went under. He just disappeared.

“I couldn’t sleep last night I keep hearing his voice laughing and joking and messing about. I can see him now in the clothes he was wearing - but he just vanished.”

Detective Inspector Mark Carolan, based at Reading police station, said: “Our thoughts remain with the boy’s family at this incredibly difficult time.

“I would like to thank the emergency services, local residents and the divers from Specialist Group International who assisted our officers in searching for the boy.”

Peter Faulding, founder and Chief Executive of SGI, told the Mirror: "Every year we put out water safety messages and we urge people to take care around the water.

“The water is cold, there is danger of cold water shock and there are hazards such as underwater weeds that are not always apparent.

“We average 10 drownings a year and it is always teenagers.

“A few years ago there were two drownings within two weeks in exactly the same place.

It comes after officers from the same force were called to Boulters Lock, at the River Thames in Maidenhead, earlier on Monday, after a report of a woman’s body in the river just a couple of mile.

The force said the woman’s death is being treated as unexplained and that formal identification has yet to take place, with officers working to establish the circumstances and to identify a next of kin.

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