Four boys who died after falling through the ice drowned, the inquest said

Four boys who died after falling through the ice of a frozen lake have drowned, an inquest hearing was told.

Brothers Samuel and Finlay Butler, their cousin Thomas Stewart and a fourth boy, Jack Johnson, were “playing” when they fell into Babbs Mill Lake The investigation took place on Sunday 11 December.

The four children were all in cardiac arrest when rescue teams pulled them from the water and emergency services rushed them to hospital.

Two of the boys, Jack, age 10, Thomas, 11, he died later that daywhile Finlay died the following day.

Six-year-old Samuel was taken to hospital in critical condition, but died three days later on December 14.

During the weekend, hundreds of people gathered for a vigil at a makeshift memorial near the scene paying tribute to the boys.

An initial inquiry hearing, held in Birmingham on Monday, said three of the boys were rescued after 22 minutes in the water, while a fourth was pulled from the lake after 31 minutes.

Birmingham and Solihull senior coroner Louise Hunt described the circumstances as a “devastating tragedy”, as she opened and adjourned the four inquests.

A full inquest is due to be heard in July, with Ms Hunt saying the hearing would look into the “circumstances leading to the death and the cause of death”.

He addressed his closing remarks to the families of the boys, none of whom were physically present at the courthouse, and said: “I would like to offer you all my sincere condolences

“The death of your boys is a devastating tragedy for all of you and it is difficult for all of us to understand the pain and mourning you must feel at this terrible time.

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“In due course, I hope the investigation will help you understand what happened, including the brave attempts by the emergency services to rescue the boys.”

Detective Inspector Jim Edmonds, of West Midlands Police, who gave details of how people initially raised the alarm, also praised the EMS’ subsequent “heroic efforts” to rescue the boys.

He also told the inquiry that emergency services had been responding “at pace” after receiving initial reports.

Last week, a relative of Jack’s warned the children “not to take any chances on the open water” following the tragedy.

The relative, who asked not to be named, told Sky News: ‘The kids were playing on the ice, they shouldn’t have but kids will be kids. They didn’t see the damage and the danger, it was just fun for them. .

“We wouldn’t want another family to go through this, please talk to your children and explain to them not to take any chances on the open water.”

The relative, who spoke to Sky News, called the boys who died in the accident the “little princes”.

Meanwhile, in a statement, released through West Midlands Police, Thomas’ parents, Finlay and Samuel, said: ‘As a family we are devastated at the loss of our beautiful boys Tom, Fin and Sam under such tragic circumstances.

Thomas’s older brother paid tribute to him and his cousin in a statement, writing: ‘Thomas was such a lively little soul, had such a big heart for such a young boy and was so handsome. He loved being outside playing with his companions .

“Love you Tom, big brother will be taking care of the family and see you soon.”

Paying tribute to his cousin, Finlay, he wrote: “I can’t forget my dinosaur man Fin, he loved dinosaurs so much and was always showing me new things he built in Minecraft and all the new things he learned about it. I’ll miss you little man.”

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