A GRIEVING dad has thanked the brave bystanders and rescue teams who desperately tried to save his little boy’s life.
A two-day inquest last week into the drowning of Pontefract youngster Aaron Page heard how members of the public joined emergency services to scour the River Wharfe at Bolton Abbey after the youngster slipped on some rocks and fell into a deep pool.
More than 40 people dived into river to try to rescue Aaron – who was celebrating his eighth birthday – and formed a chain across the water before being joined by police, fire and underwater search teams.
Speaking to the Express after the hearing, Aaron’s father, Alan, said: “Nobody could have done any more. We want to thank everybody, the emergency services, Andrea Campbell who tried to save Aaron, and the members of the public for that help, they did what they could.”
The inquest at Skipton Coroner’s Court heard that the family had originally planned to stay at their Monkhill Drive home but then decided to join Mr Page’s brother at the North Yorkshire beauty spot to celebrate Aaron’s birthday on June 5 last year.
Shortly after they arrived, Aaron and his brother, Josh, 14, were playing in the shallows when the eight-year-old lost his footing and plunged into the water.
Josh screamed for help and Mr Page, his brother Stuart Lindsay, and bystander Andrea Campbell dived into the water to try and save Aaron.
Skipton Police arrived within minutes of the alarm being raised at 3pm. PC Kenneth Riley directed people in the water to form a chain to help find Aaron, joined by PC Jason Payne who searched the water for an hour.
North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue service water teams arrived but could only search the water up to waist height. On the advice of Yorkshire Air Ambulance, Sgt Paul Evans, senior officer on the scene, called for an underwater search team to attend from Wakefield – the nearest specialist diving team for the area.
The West Yorkshire Police underwater search team arrived at 6pm and within 15 minutes of entering the water, PC Nigel Yarrow found Aaron’s body on the riverbed.
Issuing a verdict of accidental death, coroner Robert Turnbull, said: “I think it’s right I should draw attention to the efforts of Andrea Campbell, she was very brave in her attempts to save Aaron, and Mr Lindsay, for all the time you were in the water.
“You were in there until you were ordered out, desperately trying to find him.
“As far as emergency services are concerned, they deserve credit for their efforts.”
Mr Page told the Express: “The verdict is what we expected. At the moment, this has probably not given us closure.
“Maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow. I don’t know. I think it was a case of we thought it was finished already last year. This has reopened it and closed it again for us.”