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Cause of death revealed for four boys who died in Solihull lake tragedy after falling through ice into freezing water

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FOUR children who died after falling through a frozen lake did so from drowning, a coroner has ruled.
Siblings Samuel Butler, six, and Finlay Butler, eight, lost their lives along with their cousin Thomas Stewart, 11, and 10-year-old Jack Johnson, at Babbs Mill in Solihull, West Midlands, last Sunday.
Brothers Finlay and Samuel Butler died after the lake tragedy5Brothers Finlay and Samuel Butler died after the lake tragedyCredit: West Midlands PoliceThomas Stewart was also pulled from the freezing water5Thomas Stewart was also pulled from the freezing waterCredit: West Midlands PoliceJack Johnson, 10, died heroically trying to rescue the boys5Jack Johnson, 10, died heroically trying to rescue the boysA vigil took place on Saturday afternoon in memory of the youngsters, which hundreds of mourners attended.
A coroner at Birmingham And Solihull Coroner’s Court today confirmed all four died from drowning.
Their families last week paid a heartfelt tribute to their “beautiful boys”.
The grief-stricken parents of Sam, Fin and Thomas thanked the local community for their “overwhelming support” following last weekend’s horror.
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In a statement, they said: “As a family we are devastated at the loss of our beautiful boys in such tragic circumstances.
“We would like to thank the emergency services for all they did in rescuing the boys and to the community for their support, it has been overwhelming.”
In a poignant message, Thomas’ older brother wrote: “I love you Tom, big bro will take care of the family and I will see you soon.
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He went on to describe Thomas as “a lively little soul” with “a big heart for such a young kid” who loved to play outdoors with his pals.
Writing before he learned his younger cousin Samuel had also died, he said: “Can’t forget about my dinosaur man Fin.
“He loved dinosaurs so much and always showing me new things he built on Minecraft and all the new stuff he learnt on it. Gonna miss you little man.”
The family also offered their condolences to relatives of Jack, who dived into the freezing lake after spotting the three in trouble.
Cieran Flaherty, Jack’s headteacher at St Anthony’s Catholic Primary School, said the youngster had “a heart of gold”.
“He was someone who would always check in on others and make sure they were doing OK,” Mr Flaherty added.
“He was a joy to teach and a child who we are all so very proud of.
“A ray of sunshine who would never fail to make us all smile.
“We can only say thank you to him for brightening up our lives.”
Dr Toby Close, associate headteacher at Thomas’s school Park Hall Academy, said: “Tom was a well-liked, caring pupil with real character who went out of his way to look after those around him.
“He was a fiercely loyal friend to so many in our school community. In the short time he was at Park Hall, his outgoing personality, energy and wit shone through.
“We will miss him brightening every day with his great sense of humour.
“He radiated a love for learning with his infectious smile and enthusiastic manner.”
The boys were hauled out of the water at Babbs Mill after the alarm was raised on December 11.
Police and passers-by waded into the water in a frantic bid to reach them as other children offered branches and trees.
One rookie officer, without any specialist clothing and wearing only his uniform, went in waist deep and broke the ice with his bare hands.
The boys were rescued and taken to the water’s edge where paramedics began CPR but each was in cardiac arrest.
Fin and Thomas died shortly after arriving at hospital.
Jack, who did not know the other three boys, died hours later and Sam lost his fight for life on Wednesday.
Supt Rich Harris, of West Midlands Police, said: “This is a tragedy beyond words and a grief that is unimaginable for the families and friends of the boys.
“The support from the community has been overwhelming, not just for the bereaved families, but also for the emergency services, for which we are extremely grateful.
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“Our officers will remain in the area in the coming days.
“Please come and speak to us if you need to.”
A candlelight vigil for the boys who died at Babbs Mill Lake5A candlelight vigil for the boys who died at Babbs Mill LakeCredit: BPMBirmingham and Solihull Coroner’s Court5Birmingham and Solihull Coroner’s CourtCredit: SWNS
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