Passer-by tells of desperate bid to save Spencer Hurst in pool tragedy

By Annabal Bagdi | Pelsall | News | Published:

A passer-by has told how he plunged into open water as he tried to save a drowning schoolboy swept under a ‘dangerous’ lake.

Friends laying floral tributes at the scene where Spencer Hurst, inset, lost his life

John Tasker was at the Walsall lake when he heard teenagers frantically shouting as they lost sight of their friend Spencer Hurst.

He rushed to the worried group of boys before removing his clothes and flinging himself into Ryders Hayes Mere, Black Country Coroners Court was told.

As the distressed youngsters pointed to where Spencer had slipped underwater, Mr Tasker battled across the 18ft deep lake.

In a statement read to the inquest, Mr Tasker said: “I was using my arms and legs to feel for Spencer, however, I could not find him.”

He then grabbed a fishing rod to delve deeper into the Pelsall lake but emergency services arrived and ended his 25-minute search.

Spencer was discovered more than an hour later before firefighters and police officers united to form a ‘human shield’ around his body as loved ones cradled the youngster.


Sitting at the court in Oldbury, Sandwell, on Monday, senior coroner Zafar Siddique recorded a verdict of accidental death and said the cause of death was drowning.

With loved ones watching on, he said: “We will never know exactly why he came into trouble. I can’t comprehend the pain and anguish [the family have] gone through.”

Spencer was cooling down in the water with friends on the hot summer’s day when he began ‘splashing about’ in distress.

The 15-year-old’s friend grabbed his wrist in attempt to pull him to safety but the ‘bright’ schoolboy slipped away.


Inspector John Pickard said he arrived on scene to a troupe of 30 children and adults scouring the area for the young boxing champion. The West Midlands Police officer added: “We would just like to thank everybody who helped us.

“It was really hard for us. Even though we are classed as professionals, some of us have had to seek counselling because it was difficult.It has affected us.”

Ryders Hayes Mere

At a pre-inquest hearing in August Mr Siddique revealed he would write a preventing future deaths report to the company which owns the pool, Parkhill Estates.

At the hearing yesterday Parkhill Estates said it hopes to construct a lasting legacy to the teenager to warn against the dangers of swimming in open water following the lake tragedy on June 20.

Spencer’s death was the second at the lake in a decade after 17-year-old Kee-rian White drowned there in 2007.

Choking back tears, civil engineer Andrew Foster told the inquest of the plans at the former mining site.

Spencer Hurst

He said: “We want to put something up that is a bit more than ‘danger, open water’ or ‘do not swim’ to make sure people are aware of the dangers and reinforce the message.

“We believe it would not get vandalised and would stay there.”

Paul Gordon, head of business change at Walsall council, said it had no responsibility of the private land and could not direct Parkhill Estates to take any action in the wake of Spencer’s death.

Speaking after the inquest, Spencer’s family thanked the residents for their ongoing support.

Annabal Bagdi

By Annabal Bagdi

Senior reporter based at head office in Wolverhampton.


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