A six-year-old girl drowned in front of her twin brother after plunging into a freezing canal lock while playing with friends, it emerged today.
Imie Harrison, six, tumbled into the water while clambering over the gates of the canal lock at a remote beauty spot at 6.20pm on Tuesday.
Imie was playing on the Woverley Court Lock on the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal in Kidderminster, Worcs., with her twin brother CJ and two friends when two of them fell in.
Another youngster dived in to rescue one of the children but was unable to reach Imie who struggled to scramble up the steep sides of the lock.
CJ sprinted half-a-mile back to the family home to raise the alarm.
Rescue teams, including police, firefighters and an air ambulance attending, rushed to the scene and managed to drag Imie out of the water.
She suffered a cardiac arrest when she was pulled from the water and was flown to Birmingham Children’s Hospital but died shortly after arriving.
Imie’s mother today told of her anguish of losing her beloved daughter.
Lisa Harrison was being comforted by friends, including Fiona Harris, whose two-year-old son Charlie died following a battle against leukaemia last month.
Fiona wrote on Lisa’s Facebook page: “Lisa it’s Fi, you know where I am if you need me babe I’m so so sorry xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.”
Lisa replied: “I know Fi I think I do chic I need someone who knows how this is fukin (sic) hurting me xxxxx.”
Imie’s headteacher at St John’s CE Primary School Lawrence Gittins yesterday paid tribute to a “much loved and talented girl.”
He said: “Our whole school community is deeply saddened and shocked at the tragic death last night of one of our pupils Imie Harrison.
“She was a much loved and talented girl and we will miss her very much.
“At this time our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Imie and all of the pupils and staff who knew her at school.
“Our focus now is to help family, friends and our whole community through this difficult time.
“We would appreciate you respecting our privacy to give us the space to enable us to do this.
“Again, the thoughts and prayers of our whole school community are with Imie’s family and friends and this time.”
Superintendent Kevin Purcell, of West Mercia Police, said: “There were four children playing.
“We think they have gone to play near that area. They are all children of six years of age.
“They weren’t playing in the water but an incident occurred that caused two of them to fall in the canal.
“A third child went in to try and rescue them.
“Imie’s twin brother was there and was part of raising the alarm. He went back and found somebody to tell.
“The police were told about it soon after by an adult and police arrived the same time as members of the community.
“Between them the young girl was recovered from the canal.
“It’s a very very rural location, it’s not one of our centres of activity around the canals.
“It’s a distance from the children’s house and a play park but it is somewhere that is walkable.
“The message remains the same, make sure you know where you’re children are and keep them away from water because it’s dangerous.
“This appears to be an extremely tragic accident at this stage and our thoughts are with Imie’s family, who are absolutely devastated by her death.
“Our investigation into this incident is continuing today and we are working hard to establish exactly how Imie came to be in the water.”
Imie’s distraught mother Lisa Harrison, 45, was seen running to the canal screaming as rescuers desperately tried to save her daughter.
Resident Ally Scott wrote on Facebook: “Saw a lady running hysterically a few minutes after the air ambulance went up and police were trying to comfort her.
“She didn’t get out of her ambulance when the other girls were found.
“She was still there in the ambulance when I left.
“The first went in the air ambulance, but saw another being carried in silver wrap.”
The family, who breed and show shire horses around the UK, were yesterday said to be “devastated” by Imie’s death.
Grandma Tracey Ridewood paid a touching tribute to Imie on Facebook underneath a picture of an angel.
She wrote: “You have another little angel to take care of Donna, Imie tell her nanny loves her and give her lots of love and kisses.”
A resident, who lives near the family, said: “It looks as though the kids were playing on the lock, probably running over the gates of the lock and two fell in.
“It’s tragic but when the lock is shallow it is impossible to climb out. It’s horrendous.”
Another neighbour Jean Flanagan, 71, added: “The little girl used to play outside with her friends a lot – we would see her playing with her twin brother. They were inseparable.
“It’s an absolute tragedy what has happened. Kids go down there a lot, but there are no safety barriers. The whole community has been rocked. Her mum is inconsolable.”
Eyewitness Jonathon Waring said: “There was a lot of police and fire engines then we heard the police helicopter flying very low and it landed on Springfield Park.
“It dropped two people off and they ran across the field.
“I went down to have a look and there was a lot of ambulance and police and fire crews everywhere and by the canal crossing.
“I thought it was a manhunt because so many were there, I went up to Wolverley and there were officers up there as well.
“Residents were telling us that a little girl had fallen in.
“A lot of people had come out of their houses and were stood in their driveways.
“Everyone was very shocked and devastated about what was going on.
“We were very concerned and worried about the little girl.
“Some people were saying why is there no fences by the canal but then you cannot fence a whole canal off.”
A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said: “Ambulance crews joined other emergency services in searching a location near Springfield Park after reports of children in difficulty in the water.
“A female was recovered from the water and found to be in cardiac arrest.
Resuscitation was immediately carried out on the child before the patient was later taken to Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
“It is understood that the child later died in hospital.
“Two further children were treated at the scene for hypothermia.
“A boy and girl, believed to be six years old were out of the water when ambulance crews arrived. They were conveyed to Worcester Hospital.”