Search icon


09th Jul 2023

Death of four boys feeding ducks on frozen lake ruled an accident

Ellen Fitzpatrick

The tragic deaths of four boys who drowned after falling into a frozen lake in England has been ruled an “awful, tragic accident,”  by a coroner.

An inquest in Birmingham confirmed that the cause of deaths of Samuel Butler, 6, Finlay Butler, 8, Jack Johnson, 10, and Thomas Stewart, 11 was drowning.

It also heard that the boys fell through the ice on the frozen lake at Babbs Mill Park in Solihull when they were skimming stones and feeding the ducks on December 11 of last year.

The Coroner’s Court was told of how Finlay was the first boy to fall in and Samuel and Thomas went in after him in an attempt to save him.

Jack then went in after hearing their struggle and also tragically lost his life.

Speaking at the inquest, coroner Louise Hunt said: “Very sadly on December 11 last year, West Midlands Police were called to Babbs Mill lake to reports that boys had fallen through the ice in the lake. The water temperature was very cold.

“We heard how Jack was playing with his friends and the skate park, then they walked around to where the tragedy occurred and Jack and his friends go onto the ice.

“A short time later, Tom, Fin and Sam arrive in the area and they decide to go and feed the ducks. Sadly Fin and Sam also went onto the ice. Fin had seemed to be chatting, making friends. Sadly Fin fell through the ice, some distance out, we now know it was 12 metres.”

After Tom and Jack both separately tried to help but fell in, emergency services were rushed to the scene to try to save the boys.

It was reported that police officers went against medical advice and formed a human chain to wade through the water, with one punching the ice in an attempt to save them.