Solihull frozen lake tragedy: Four boys who fell through ice died from drowning, inquest opening hears

The inquest opening in Birmingham heard that the four boys had been “playing” on the ice when it gave way beneath them

Four boys who died after plunging through the ice of a frozen lake in Solihull drowned, an inquest hearing has been told. Brothers Finlay and Sam Butler and their cousin Thomas Stewart, along with a fourth boy Jack Johnson, were “playing” at Babbs Mill Lake on Sunday, December 11 when tragedy struck, the inquest heard.

The four children were all in cardiac arrest by the time rescue teams pulled them out of the icy water and paramedics rushed them to hospital. Two of the boys, Thomas 11, and Jack 10, died later that day, while Finlay died the following day.

Sam, aged six, clung to life in intensive care but died three days after the incident on December 14. That weekend, hundreds of people gathered for a candlelit vigil at the scene, where a mountain of flowers and toys had been left in tribute to the four boys.

An initial inquest hearing held this morning (Monday, December 19) in Birmingham was told the three boys were rescued after 22 minutes in the water. A fourth boy was pulled from the lake after 31 minutes.

Senior coroner for Birmingham and Solihull Louise Hunt opened and adjourned the four inquests into the boys’ deaths. The provisional cause of the boys’ deaths was given as drowning but a full inquest is set to be heard in July 2023.

In a statement, released through West Midlands Police, the parents of Thomas, Finlay and Samuel, said: "As a family we are devastated at the loss of our beautiful boys Tom, Fin and Sam in such tragic circumstances."

Thomas’ older brother paid tribute to him and his cousin in a statement, writing: "Thomas was such a lively little soul, he had a big heart for such a young kid and he was so beautiful. He loved being outside playing with his mates. I love you Tom, big bro will take care of the family and I will see you soon.”