Birmingham & Black Country

Walsall lake death: Boy, 15, was swimming with friends

Spencer Hurst Image copyright Facebook
Image caption The boy has been named locally as Spencer Hurst

A teenage boy died after getting into difficulty while swimming in a lake with friends.

Spencer Hurst, 15, was found after emergency services went to Ryders Hayes Mere near Walsall, West Midlands.

He got into trouble at about 19:00 BST on Tuesday and his body was recovered just over an hour later.

His death follows that of another teenager, Paul Lawson, 16, who died at a reservoir in Rochdale on Monday.

Paul's mother Natalie Lawson told the BBC she had "begged" him not to go into the water, and urged others to learn from her son's death.

'Not worth the heartbreak'

Elsewhere in England, a woman in her 80s died after being pulled from the sea at East Wittering, Sussex, on Monday.

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'I begged him not to go in the water'

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Media captionTeenage boy dies while swimming in lake in Walsall

Spencer's death happened on the fourth day of a heatwave across parts of England - and during Drowning Prevention Week.

Head teacher David Mountney said the year 10 pupil had only joined Aldridge School this year, but "had already established a strong friendship group".

He said: "When someone so young dies, it obviously impacts heavily on their family but also on the wider community especially their school.

"We have provided counselling services and have spoken to pupils about the importance of caring for each other.

"Ours is a community which prides itself on such support, even at times of challenge."

Image caption Spencer's sister said she was still in shock at his death

Ben Brook, West Midlands Fire Service's area commander, said both teenagers' deaths "serve as tragic reminders of the dangers of swimming in open water".

"We absolutely understand the temptation to swim, have fun and cool down during the heatwave, but we are asking people not to," he said.

"It simply isn't worth the risk nor the heartbreak for all involved when things go wrong."

It is thought Spencer had swum out to an island in the lake and was returning to the shore when he got into difficulties.

His sister Hollie and his friends went to the lake on Wednesday to pay tribute to him.

She said: "I'm still in shock. It just doesn't seem real. Everyone said we were like twins."

Image caption Emergency services at the scene in Walsall

One woman, who gave her name as Tanya, told BBC WM that emergency crews had struggled to get access to the lake and locals helped open a gate at the bottom of Ryders Hayes Lane.

Paramedics then ran to the lake, arriving about 20 minutes after the boy had first become distressed.

"When I got there, his friends were all crying and saying he just said he felt out of breath and tried to grab him but he went under," she said.

Image caption In June 2007, a 17-year-old boy died the same lake

Terry Leonard, a coach at Pleck Boxing Club, which Spencer had been a member of since junior school, said all boxers and coaches were "broken hearted" by the news of his death.

"There is no doubt in our minds this lad was destined for major honours in the boxing world. Brilliant boxer. Brilliant personality. Brilliant lad," he said.

Image caption People have been leaving tributes by the lake

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said staff on the ground searched the area for the 15-year-old on Tuesday evening, with assistance from crews in the air ambulance and police helicopter.

He said: "Although it is very hot at the moment, the dangers of going into open water cannot be underestimated."

Open water swimming advice

Image copyright Getty Images
  • Get to know where you are swimming and check the condition before going in
  • Make sure you are properly equipped
  • Beware of the cold
  • Make sure someone knows where you have gone and why, and that you have the means to call for help especially in remote locations
  • Take note of local safety advice and respect the countryside, landowners and other users

Source: National Water Safety Forum

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