BBC news reader Joanna Gosling appeared to be overwhelmed with emotion as she announced the tragic deaths of three young boys who fell into a frozen lake.
The boys aged eight, 10 and 11 died after falling into an icy lake in Solihull, while a fourth boy aged six is still fighting for his life, police confirmed today. The four youngsters were taken to hospital in a critical condition after suffering cardiac arrests having fallen through ice at Babbs Mill Park at 2.30pm yesterday.
Police said searches of the lake are continuing to establish whether anyone else fell into the water, after reports that as many as six children may have been involved.
As Ms Gosling delivered the news of the deaths live on air today, she appeared visibly upset and after taking a pause said ‘I’m so sorry, this is terrible news obviously.’ She described the deaths as very ‘shocking’ and ‘very sad’.
The broadcast journalist is herself a mother of three daughters, Maya, Iona and Honor, who she shares with ex-husband and former aide to ex-PM David Cameron, Sir Craig Oliver.
Viewers praised Ms Gosling ‘for being unafraid to be human’ saying she showed ‘dignity, empathy and professionalism’.
Police today confirmed three boys had died after falling through ice at Babbs Mill Park in Solihull (which officers are seen searching today) while a fourth boy remains critical
Members of the public and police officers initially went into the chilly waters to try to get the youngsters out, before the children were reached by specialist water rescue-trained firefighters who got the group to safety.
Those pulled from the water were given immediate life support by ambulance and fire service personnel before being rushed to two Birmingham hospitals; Birmingham Children’s and Heartlands, where they all arrived in critical condition.
In an update on Monday morning, West Midlands Police said: ‘Three boys have tragically died after falling into the lake at Babbs Mill Park in Solihull yesterday afternoon.
‘The boys, aged 11, 10 and eight, were rushed to hospital after being pulled from the water.
‘Sadly, they could not be revived and our thoughts are with their family and friends at this deeply devastating time. We’ll have specialist officers offering them as much support as we can.
‘A fourth boy, aged six, remains in a critical condition in hospital.’
West Midlands Fire Service area commander Richard Stanton said the deaths were a ‘stark reminder’ of the dangers of open water.
BBC news reader Joanna Gosling appeared to be visibly upset by the ‘shocking’ news
She took a pause and said: ‘I’m so sorry, this is terrible news obviously’
Temperatures are thought to have plunged to 1C (34F) in the area at the time of the incident, falling to -3C (27F) overnight
A huge number of paramedics, police officers and firefighters helped with efforts as boats entered and exited the lake
Emergency workers took to the lake yesterday evening for the search amid difficult weather conditions
He told a press conference at the scene at Babbs Mill Park in Solihull: ‘Yesterday’s incident is a stark reminder to us all of the dangers of open water, especially during the winter months.
‘Frozen lakes, ponds, canals and reservoirs can look picturesque but they can be lethal and there are no greater warnings of this than yesterday’s tragic events.
‘We would ask parents and carers to remind their children of the dangers of ice and why they must keep off it. Please help us to avoid this from happening again.’
Police have had no contact from anyone suggesting there are others missing but will keep searching on Monday to make sure.
Emergency services continue to search the lake after reports suggested up to six children may have been on the lake when the ice fell through
Superintendent Richard Harris, of West Midlands Police, told reporters: ‘We have to be 100% certain that there is no one else possibly in the water at this time.
‘It’s important to stress though that we’ve had no contact from anybody suggesting that there’s anybody else missing but until we’re 100% certain we will be carrying on searches throughout the course of today.’
One officer was treated for hypothermia after trying to punch through ice in an effort to rescue children from the lake, police said.
Superintendent Richard Harris, of West Midlands Police, told reporters: ‘Police officers did go into into the water.
‘They were joined by other members of the other emergency services. Some of the officers went in waist-deep.
‘One of my officers was trying to punch through the ice to actually rescue the children themselves. That officer as a result of that had some mild hypothermia yesterday. I’m pleased to say that he’s now been released from hospital and he’s absolutely fine.’
Superintendent Harris said there are a number of witnesses officers still want to speak to and appealed for anyone with information to contact the force.
Two children – said to be aged under 12 – had been playing on the ice when it cracked beneath them.
This prompted their friends to run onto the lake and try and help them only to get into trouble themselves, witnesses said.
Richard Stanton, area commander for West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service, told BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme today: ‘Initial reports stated that there were up to six people that had gone into the water and so search operations have continued throughout yesterday and will continue today to search the entirety of the lake.’
Police said searches of the lake are continuing to establish whether anyone else fell into the water
West Midland Fire Service chief Richard Stanton said last night the it was now a ‘recovery rather than rescue’ mission
Mr Stanton warned people to take care near lakes amid the freezing temperatures that have swept across the UK today, saying it was ‘really important’ people contacted emergency services as rapidly as possible.
Temperatures are thought to have plunged to 1C (34F) in the area at the time of the incident, falling to -3C (26F) overnight.
Downing Street said the deaths of three children at a lake in Solihull were tragic but praised the response of the emergency services.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘Obviously this is devastating news for the family and friends of those who have died, this is a tragic incident.
‘The Prime Minister’s thoughts are with them and obviously he passes his thanks to the emergency services who are continuing to work and provide support.’
Solihull Council Ian Courts and deputy leader Karen Grinsell said: ‘This is just about as bad as it gets… a dreadful situation. We are completely stunned at what’s happened.
‘We are still awaiting more news. Clearly our thoughts and prayers have to be with the families in this situation. I can hardly imagine what the families are going through.’