Boy dies and second in critical condition after getting into difficulty in River Tyne

<span>A view of the Tyne at Ovingham, near Newcastle.</span><span>Photograph: David Taylor Photography/Alamy</span>
A view of the Tyne at Ovingham, near Newcastle.Photograph: David Taylor Photography/Alamy

A 14-year-old boy has died and a 13-year-old boy is in a critical condition after getting into difficulty in the River Tyne in Northumberland, police have said.

Police were called to the river at 3.30pm on Saturday after they received a report about two teenage boys in water near a bridge in Ovingham, a village east of Hexham.

Emergency services attended the scene and the 13-year-old was rescued from the water. He was taken to hospital and remained in a critical condition, police said.

The body of the 14-year-old boy was later found in the water after an extensive search effort and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Ch Supt Helena Barron, of Northumbria police, said: “This is an absolutely tragic incident, and our thoughts are with the families of both boys at this difficult time as we continue to support them.

“A number of agencies were involved in the incident and their support was hugely appreciated. It is with great sadness that we could not provide a more positive update.”

The parents of both boys are being supported by specially trained officers, police added.

The area remained cordoned off on Sunday, with a police forensics team seen examining an area near a swing on the riverbank, while a road closure was also in place.

Guy Opperman, the MP for the Hexham constituency, which includes Ovingham, said the incident was “devastating news”. “My heart goes out to the families and loved ones of these poor boys,” he posted on social media.

The incident appears to have happened in the same area where a 13-year-old boy drowned in 2022.

Robert Hattersley, from Crawcrook, died after getting into difficulty in the river near Ovingham on 17 July 2022, and last year the fire service and police issued warnings after a group of young people were spotted swinging into the water in the same spot.

Northumberland fire and rescue service said in a statement: “Areas like this often have strong currents which are not always visible above the water, and it is important to note that fresh water is more difficult to float in than salt water.

“There can be hidden dangers just below the surface such as large rocks, and hitting the water at an unlucky angle could stun anyone. Cold water shock can also kick in immediately.”

Last year, Robert’s parents said they would campaign for better education about river dangers in schools, as well as more safety equipment, information and increased patrols along the stretch of river concerned.

In response to the latest incident, the Robert Hattersley Foundation posted on social media to say it had happened “where Robert lost his life too”.

“I feel very upset about it, we know what they are going through,” Robert’s father, Carl Hattersley, told ChronicleLive. “It can happen to anyone.

“There needs to be more awareness of this amongst older children. They need to know about the dangers of the current, it can be quite strong in that area. Kids are kids. They go down to the river and they don’t see the dangers.

“As the summer gets closer there’s going to be more going down there. I think there needs to be more education. They might think twice before going in”.

Following Robert’s death, a local county councillor, Angie Scott, called for more safety measures, saying she had to be pulled from the same stretch of river when she was 14, and that it “was not a safe place to go in”.

The number of children who drowned in England increased from 20 in 2019-20 to 37 in 2021-22, according to the National Water Safety Forum, which this year launched new educational resources for schools to help boost water safety messages among young people.

It said school-age children were not a high-risk group but drowning risks increase as children reach teenage years and peaks among 20- to 29-year-olds.