NATIONAL: Search for boy, 13, who went missing after getting into difficulty while swimming

Emergency services are searching for the boy. Picture: Richard Vernalls/PA Wire
Emergency services are searching for the boy. Picture: Richard Vernalls/PA Wire
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A search operation is underway to find a 13-year-old boy who went missing after getting into difficultly while swimming in a lake.

Police divers are continuing to search a lake where the teenager was last seen.

The boy has been named by police.  Picture: Richard Vernalls/PA Wire

The boy has been named by police. Picture: Richard Vernalls/PA Wire

A Nottinghamshire Police dive team and shoreline search groups in drysuits have been combing the extensive Westport Lake in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, for a second day after the alarm was first raised at 5pm yesterday.

Staffordshire Police have named the boy as 13-year-old Ryan Evans and said his family were ‘distraught and devastated’.

Efforts to locate Ryan began immediately last night after three youngsters were seen getting into difficulties after going into Wesport Lake.

Two of the youngsters managed to get out of the water before emergency services arrived, but Ryan is still missing.

Staffordshire Police said the underwater search was taking place in “extremely difficult conditions” at one end of the lake, where a witness last spotted the boy.

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Chief Inspector John Owen said: ‘It is a lad by the name of Ryan Evans, who’s 13 years old - he is a local male.’

He added: ‘It is something no parent should ever go through.

‘We need to make sure they (the parents) find out the information before anybody else.

‘We’re giving them all the support they need. That’s my primary focus.’

Earlier, Mr Owen said a “systematic” search of the lake was now taking place.

He added: ‘We received a call just before 5pm of three young males in distress in the water.

‘Two have made it out - we’re still looking for a third at this time.’

The other two youngsters, aged 12 and 13, were uninjured and are being supported following their ordeal.

Police were called by a witness who had spotted the children at the north end of the lake, near where it is bordered by the path of the Trent and Mersey Canal.

Mr Owen said: ‘We received a call there were males in the lake, we’ve arrived, two of the young males were already out - one male wasn’t out.

‘Clearly, we need to pull somebody out safe and well.

‘We’re on the following day (now), we’ve got specialist search teams here now searching the area, and searching the lake.’

The lake’s size and underwater conditions have presented difficulties in which to carry out the operation, the officer said.

‘The divers are going to be working in murky conditions.

‘Speaking to local fishermen here, it’s extremely reedy and weedy at the bottom, they’re working in extremely difficult conditions.’

Mr Owen added: ‘It is an extremely large lake and I can’t give timescales at all.

‘We need to be thorough, we need to be systematic and we need to do things properly.

‘In essence, sometimes it’s a pace to make sure we don’t miss things.’

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The officer said it was impossible to comprehend what the missing boy’s family were going through, and they were being supported.

Group manager Brian Moss, of Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: ‘At approximately 5pm yesterday afternoon we were called to a report of three young people who were in distress in the water.

‘Two of those young males did manage to get out of the water, and then an emergency call was made to report a third person was missing.’

Emergency services have assembled an extensive team, including a specialist West Midlands Ambulance Service team and a Staffordshire fire brigade team, equipped with boats and waders.

A volunteer group, Staffordshire Search and Rescue Team, is also assisting what Mr Moss called a ‘methodical search’.

He said: ‘It’s an extremely difficult task because of the clarity of the water.

‘Some places we’ve got shallow, clear water, but other areas we’ve got reed beds and the depth of the water increases, so the visibility diminishes.

‘So that becomes a bit more difficult for searching.

‘Depending on location, the search pattern is becoming broader and more difficult.’

The lake is a legacy of coal mining associated with the area’s historic potteries and industrial trade, though the fire brigade said it was the ‘clarity and size of the lake that’s proving the difficulty’.

The body of water sits above the old Brownhills Colliery and was formed in 1884, when the workings hit the water table, flooding the tunnels and ground above.

Mr Moss urged people not to give in to the “temptation” to go into rivers and open water during hot days.