Babbs Mill boys’ frozen lake deaths accidental, coroner rules

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Desk report: The deaths of four boys who fell into a frozen lake near Solihull were accidental and “a devastating tragedy”, a coroner concluded.

Finlay Butler, eight, and his younger brother Samuel, six, died, as did their cousin Thomas Stewart, 11, and another boy, Jack Johnson, 10.

They went into the water at Babbs Mill Park on 11 December 2022.

The boys went on to the ice after they fed ducks and skimmed stones, the inquest heard.

In her summary, coroner Louise Hunt said she was satisfied “emergency services did their utmost” and that “treatment in hospital was good” and “everyone did all they could and should be commended for their actions”.

The inquest heard Finlay fell in first, Thomas and Jack as they tried to help and no-one saw Samuel fall in.

Det Insp Jim Edmonds, from West Midlands Police, said Jack was with one group of children and the other three in another.

Jack then decided to go on the ice and Thomas, Finlay and Samuel followed.

After they fell in, witnesses said they saw the boys in the water, shouting for help, but they could not get out and a short time later they went under the surface.

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