Witnesses describe search for missing girl who died at Windsor waterpark
Lifeguards and the public entered lake to hunt for 11-year-old who got into difficulties at Liquid Leisure
Witnesses have described how staff and members of the public desperately searched for an 11-year-old girl who died after going missing at a Windsor waterpark.
Customers at Liquid Leisure near Datchet were told to shout the girl’s name after she got into difficulty on Saturday, one witness said.
Emergency services including a helicopter, an ambulance and a search and rescue crew were called to the scene at about 3.55pm.
The girl was found at approximately 5.10pm and was rushed to Wexham Park hospital, but died, Thames Valley police said.
A mother of two, who did not want to be named, told the PA news agency the initial hope was that the girl had made it out of the water safely.
The 34-year-old woman, who was at the park with her sons, said that at about 3.45pm “lifeguards and the friends and family of the little girl started running along the main walkways that run alongside the lake shouting her name.
“I later learned that they were hoping she’d somehow managed to make it back to the shoreline and was in shock or passed out. They were asking all of us to shout her name. There was one lady in particular who was either her mum or someone close to her, that was in swimwear and was visibly shaking and crying whilst shouting for her.”
The witness praised the “amazing” efforts of lifeguards and strong swimmers who had jumped into the water to look for the girl before emergency services arrived.
“With every minute that passed by you could see the rising panic amongst the onlookers,” she added.
One witness told Sky News the girl had been seen going underwater and “didn’t come back up”, at which point lifeguards rushed over.
The 11-year-old had been with a group of friends celebrating another girl’s birthday when she disappeared, the witness said.
The death is being treated as unexplained and an investigation has been launched, Thames Valley police said.
Although formal identification has yet to take place, the girl’s next of kin have been informed and are being offered support by officers.
The local policing area commander for Windsor and Maidenhead, Supt Michael Greenwood of Thames Valley police, said: “My thoughts are with the family and friends of the girl who has died as a result of this tragic incident. We are in the early stages of investigating this incident to understand the full circumstances.
He added: “I am aware that several members of the public entered the lake shortly after the girl got into difficulty, but were unable to locate her. I would like to commend them for their courage and bravery.”
Flowers and tributes have been left outside the park, which remained closed on Sunday.
In a statement, Liquid Leisure said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and all those affected by this desperately tragic and upsetting incident.”
“As Thames Valley police are in the early stages of an investigation it would not be right for us to add further comment, but we will continue to fully support and assist them throughout the process.”