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Teenager drowns in lake

What Happened
Person tired/overwhelmed by water
What Caused
Adverse environmental conditions
Casualty type/Qty
Causal Factors
Low water temperature
Injury Details
Accident suspected

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Description of Incident
A schoolboy who yesterday drowned in a man-made lake has been named by police.

Phillip Law, 15, was swimming towards an island on Manvers Lake in South Yorkshire when he got into difficulties.

His death is the third on the lake since 1997.

Two other boys reached the island safely, but Phillip was dragged under the water by fierce currents forming a whirlpool.

Firefighters and police officers were called to the lake - on a former coal mine near Wath-upon-Dearne, near Rotherham - at about 12.20pm on Wednesday.

The two boys had to be rescued by a fire service boat.

A fourth friend, who did not to swim in the lake, looked on helplessly as Phillip slipped under the surface.

Another boy who was in the water swam back to the shore to raise the alarm.

Phillip's parents, who live in nearby Rawmarsh, were too distressed to talk yesterday.

The tragedy comes almost five years to the day since an identical death when a 18-year-old boy drowned as he cooled off.

Another boy aged 15 was killed in the same lake in 1997.

Mother-of-six Kirsty Stewart, 36, whose home overlooks the lake, said: ' We were in the garden with the kids when we heard the police helicopter flying over and went to see what was going on.

'We saw three boats and then police cleared us away so the air ambulance could land. We saw a diver go into the water with his hand up so they could see how deep it was, then the brought someone out.

'They were resuscitating him in the dingy then the put him on a stretcher, they were resuscitating him for about half an hour before the air ambulance took him away.

'It's an awful tragedy, its such a lovely place and a lot of people use it to go walking and dog walking. They should have someone patrolling when its hot, warning the kids how dangerous it is.'

In 1997, Darren Baggley from Wath drowned in the lake when he suffered cramp as he swam with friends.

And five years ago Adam Peterson, 18, from the village of Goldthorpe, suffered the same fate as he tried to swim out to the island with friends on a sunny day.
Enlarge Manvers Lake near Rotherham, where the fatal accident occurred

Beauty Spot: Manvers Lake near Rotherham, where the fatal accident occurred

His death prompted the then owners of the lake Rotherham Council to employ security guards in the summer to prevent people from swimming.

The lake and the surrounding 285 acre site is now owned by Express Park Developments.

The 50 acre lake is a 600-yard lagoon which was excavated in 1997 on the site of the former Manvers Colliery and is 60 feet deep at its deepest point.

Signs around around the lake warn: 'Danger-deep water. No swimming.'

But the lake is regularly used as a base for canoeing and for swimming be members of a local club called Team Manvers Triathalon Club.

Vice chairman of the club Tim Drake said: ' The club wouldn't dream of letting anyone in the water without a wet suit. The cold is a real shock when you first jump in.

'Whenever we use the lake we have spotters on the side and safety canoes to help if anyone gets into trouble.We see kids hanging around the side and we try to get them to join us so they can swim in a safe environment.

'I have been doing triathlons for 15 years and it's the safest lake I have ever used, there aren't many weeds and it's very clear, but there are danger signs around.'

Chris Hawksworth from Manvers Waterfront Boat Club added: 'It's not a dangerous lake if you know what you are doing. But with an air temperature approaching 30c, the water temperature is only 10c.
Map of the area where tragic accident occurred

Beauty Spot: Map of the area where tragic accident occurred

'When you go swimming in it, if you don't take precautions, that temperature of the water is only a third of your body temperature.

'It's not a case that the youngsters can't swim, they are probably very confident in swimming, but the water temperature saps your muscles, you simply get tired and you body gives up on you.

'That is why you get these drownings which are because of swim failure. It's just the inability to swim any more. We go canoeing on the lake, we have triathlons and we do swim the whole length of the lake but we swim it in wet suits with helmets, swimming caps that are luminouse.If you don't take those precautions your life is limited.

'You get peoples with lilos in the middle of the lake which is probably 300 yards from the shore. That is 60 times as far as an Olympic swimming pool to swim back if you fall in. We get little inflatable dinghies going into the lake when the good weather happens.'

Geoff Lomas from Yorkshire Water said: 'What begins as a day in the sun can turn to tragedy in minutes if you decide to take a dip. It really doesn't matter how well you can swim, it's the cold that kills.

'The body gradually shuts down to prevent the vital organs and muscles will go into cramp.'

Two police helicopters, the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, and an inflatable boat were involved in the search along with a dozen police officers, eight police cars, two ambulances and two fire engines.

Chief Inspector Nev Hamilton said: ' The boys were enjoying the water in the park down by the water. Three young lads went for a swim, they were trying to get to the island.'
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