Canal fall boy, 8, dies

The scene of the drowning
The scene of the drowning
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Parents call for area to be fenced off following tragedy.

WORRIED parents are calling for a South Yorkshire canal to be fenced off after an eight-year-old boy died when he fell into the water.

The boy, named by police as Matthew Cartwright, of Windhill Terrace, Mexborough, fell into the South Yorkshire Navigation Canal near Talbot Road in Mexborough, on Monday evening.

He died in Sheffield Children’s Hospital on Tuesday.

Police said Matthew was with a family member when the tragedy occurred at around 5.10pm. Today parents living locally said they had banned their children from playing on a field close to the canal bank.

Mum-of-five Sharon Cupitt, said: “I think all the kids round here have been banned from the field and the canal by their parents.

“It’s such a shock. I’ve seen a lot of people coming down bringing flowers. After this has happened that area should be fenced off.”

But a spokeswoman for British Waterways said it was not practical to fence the area off.

Members of the emergency services sped to the scene on Monday night and the stricken youngster was pulled out of the water.

A police spokeswoman said the child was flown by the South Yorkshire Police helicopter to Rotherham District General Hospital.

He was then transferred to Sheffield Children’s Hospital but died on Tuesday evening.

Today his family were too devastated to speak about their loss.

A pile of cuddly toys and floral tributes was growing at the scene.

Police confirmed a post mortem examination will be carried out in the next few days. The spokeswoman said officers were not treating the death as suspicious and the coroner had been informed.

A spokesman for South Yorkshire Fire Service said the boy was out of the water when they arrived. Firefighters started to resuscitate the boy before paramedics arrived .

A British Waterways spokeswoman said: “Our thoughts go out to the family and friends of the child who died as a result of falling into the South Yorkshire Navigation. “We will fully co-operate with the police investigation.

“British Waterways regards safety along the waterways as its highest priority, for both the public and staff, and invests considerable sums of money each year to minimise these risks, which we identify through a regular monitoring programme.

“Although fencing off the canal may appear to be the favourable solution, there are a number of considerations which need to be taken into account, such as acceptable access for the emergency services, safe access to and from the water for boaters, and indeed the safe rescue of those who need help when they find themselves in difficulty.

“British Waterways’ advice is to stay safe and stay away from the edge.”

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue area manager Richard Chandler today issued a warning to those walking near waterways such as canals.

He said: “This is a tragic incident and our thoughts are with the boy’s family and friends at what is an extremely distressing time.

“Areas such as canals, rivers and lakes present a number of different hazards. It is impossible to gauge their temperature, flow or depth, and I would urge people to be mindful of the dangers that open water can bring.”