The family of a 12-year-old boy fatally injured at an indoor ski centre have paid tribute to the youngster as “our pride, our joy, our love”, telling how they “miss him so much it hurts”.
Louis Watkiss, of Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, died after being seriously injured at the SnowDome in Tamworth on September 24.
An investigation involving the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is under way into the precise circumstances of what happened.
However, the ski and snowboarding centre was served with a health and safety notice last month to put in place systems “to manage the risk of collision”.
In a tribute, his family released two new photographs of the youngster – one showing the talented jazz musician playing the saxophone and another picturing him wearing the shirt of his beloved Chelsea football club.
In the statement, issued through Staffordshire Police, Louis’ family said: “Louis was a son, a brother, a grandson, a cousin and a friend. Louis was a studious pupil who enjoyed learning, showing immense curiosity about the world around him.
“Reaching grade 5 at saxophone through the Royal Academy of Music, his involvement in two jazz ensembles demonstrated his passion for music.
“Louis supported Chelsea and England football clubs and followed England Cricket and Birmingham Bears, regularly watching both sports, along with cheering on AJ (Anthony Joshua) and Tyson Fury for their big heavyweight fights.”
His loved ones added: “We are so thankful George had five happy years with his brother, and he will hold dear the memory of Louis’ stoic personality.
“We are eternally grateful for the honour of knowing Louis and the pleasure of raising him.
“With Louis’ passing, we remind others that his life is one to be celebrated; although we will miss him every day, especially his winning smile, Louis will remain forever in our hearts.
“We love Louis very much. Our pride. Our joy. Our love.
“We miss him so much it hurts.”
Staffordshire Police are continuing to investigate the circumstances, with support from the HSE.
In a statement, the HSE said it was continuing to work with the force, with the police taking “primacy” within the investigation.
It added that the HSE had “served a Prohibition Notice on Snowdome Limited, which prevents the use of the parts of the venue, until (the) HSE is satisfied that systems in place to manage the risk of collision are suitable to address any ongoing risk to the safety of visitors and employees”.
Visitors to the ski centre’s website on Wednesday were still being told the site remained closed to the public, accompanied with a statement from management originally posted the day after the tragedy.
The statement from the centre’s operators said: “The SnowDome is to remain temporarily closed following the tragic death of a child on Friday evening.
“The directors and staff are deeply shocked by what happened, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this terrible time.”
It said management were co-operating fully with the investigation and the centre would reopen once investigators had completed their work.
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