Friday 20 April 2018

Dive teams recover teens' bodies

Emergency service personnel search for two girls who vanished after getting into difficulty while playing in the River Wear at Fatfield, Washington, Tyne and Wear
Emergency service personnel search for two girls who vanished after getting into difficulty while playing in the River Wear at Fatfield, Washington, Tyne and Wear

Tom Wilkinson and Tom White

Dive teams searching a fast-flowing river for two teenage girls missing since this afternoon have recovered a female body, Northumbria Police said.

The pair were spotted getting into trouble as they played in the River Wear at Fatfield, Washington, Tyne and Wear, at around 3pm.

 

An off-duty policeman and a member of the public initially tried to save the two teenagers, who have not been identified, before around 100 emergency service personnel joined the search and rescue effort.

 

And tonight, a Northumbria Police spokesman said that one body had been recovered, but added they were still searching the area for second missing teenager.

 

He said: "Police can confirm that search dive teams have found the body of one female in the River Wear. Searches are continuing."

 

Earlier, Supt Alan Veitch, of the force said they were alerted after the pair were spotted "in difficulty".

 

He said: "One was an off-duty police officer going for a run who dived in and saved a boy who was trying to save one of the missing girls.

 

"Another gentleman dived in and swam the width of the river to get to one of the girls but he came up empty-handed. He was distraught as you can imagine.

 

"Family liaison officers are with the parents and they are distraught and need a lot of support and we are providing them with every assistance we can."

 

The river was tidal up to a point further upstream from where the children went missing, which caused a lot of debris and foliage in the river, the officer said.

 

They went under at a point around 100 yards downstream, at a dogleg in the river, the officer said.

 

He believed the tide may have turned at around the time they got into difficulty.

 

He added: "Today was one of the hottest days of the year, it's the school holidays and it's tempting to go in the water.

 

"There are big, strong powerful river currents and this is not the place to lark about in the water."

 

Paul Cronin, 63, who lives nearby, saw one of the frantic men who had just attempted a rescue.

 

He said: "This gentleman came running up towards the park and I thought it was strange because he was dressed in his boxer shorts, even though it's warm.

 

"He had just crawled out of the river and had nearly drowned himself.

 

"He was screaming at me 'Can you swim?'."

 

They went back to the river but the first rescuer was too exhausted to go back in and Mr Cronin said when he got there, he saw no sign of the girls.

 

There was a group of three teenage boys who had been playing with the girls.

 

"By the time I got there it was too late," he said. "She had gone under the water.

 

"If she had been on the surface I would have gone in."

 

Mr Cronin said a sister of one of the missing girls was soon at the scene.

 

"She was in a right state, trying to get in touch with her mother but her phone was dead" he said.

 

Scores of people gathered in small groups close to the scene of the major search, by the Biddick Inn pub.

 

Fire crews, one in a dinghy searching the river, joined police specialists and a Coastguard team.

Press Association

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