A man is feared to have drowned in the lake at Walsall Arboretum after he was spotted struggling in the water.
Emergency services were out on the lake at the popular park last night and were continuing the search today.
Two police officers jumped into the lake and tried to rescue the man after he was seen by a passer-by at about 7.30pm last night.
But they could not find him so search teams were drafted in.
At one point, three boats were out on the water looking for the man. They used torches to see in the dark. Scores of people stood and watched as the search operation was carried out. Search teams were stood down overnight but returned to the scene this morning to continue their work.
Bystander Steve Kendrick said: “I think people must have been swimming in the lake because it was a hot day.
“The water looks calm but there are tunnels that run under the lake. It’s very dangerous. I can’t remember the last time someone died in the lake.”
Walsall councillor Mohammed Arif said he was travelling home when he saw police at the lake.
“As I arrived, police officers were in the lake trying to save the man but the person had just been taken down by the undercurrents,” he said.
“They are very, very strong and it is deep. As I was there, I was actually in the park, there were more police coming, and then they called the special rescue teams and a boat to look for the body, and then a helicopter.
“They did all they could to look for the person but they couldn’t find him. The undercurrents are very strong and by the time the police had arrived and jumped in, the person was too far away and they couldn’t get to him.
“The police officers desperately tried to locate him but having lost him it wasn’t easy.”
Police today confirmed they were also looking into a crash which happened close to the arboretum in Buchanan Avenue around 6.15pm last night. A car drove into a garden and the driver left the scene. Police spokeswoman Gina Lycett today said officers were investigating if there was any link with the lake investigation.
Paramedics involved in the search also spoke of the police officers’ bravery in trying to save the man. West Midlands Ambulance Service’s Hazardous Area Response Team posted on Twitter: “Officers from @Walsallpolice showed amazing heroism last night in an attempt to save the life of a drowning man.”
The National Police Air Service was also drafted in to help the search.
The park was cordoned off while the search was carried out.
Part of Broadway North was also closed to vehicles and many of the emergency service vehicles including fire engines, police cars and ambulances were parked along that road.
Police had earlier said a body had been found but later clarified at 9.40pm that the search was still ongoing.
Inspector Colin Mattinson, from Walsall Police, said: “We have been making inquiries in the local area overnight in an attempt to identify the man seen in difficulty, and to determine how he came to be in the water.
“We continue to appeal for information from people. The search had to be stopped overnight but we are resuming inquiries.”
Catherine Hickman, spokeswoman for West Midlands Police, said an investigation had been launched to find out how the man had come to be in the water.
The Arboretum remained closed to the public this morning while the search continued.
Residents took to social media to express their shock after seeing emergency services at the scene and a helicopter circling above.
Serena posted on Twitter: “Walsall Arboretum park is full of police, ambulances and firemen and there’s a police helicopter circling the lake.”
And Johnny posted: “What on earth is going on at Walsall Arboretum tonight? Helicopter, 4 ambulances, 3 fire engines, 10 police cars.....”
An appeal has been launched for anyone with information to call police on 101.