A mother-of-two has told of the desperate search for an 11-year-old girl who died after disappearing at a Windsor water park.
Customers at Liquid Leisure near Datchet were told to call out the girl’s name as they looked for her after she got into trouble on Saturday, the witness said.
Emergency services including a helicopter, an ambulance and a search and rescue team were called to the scene at around 3.55pm.
The girl was found at around 5.10pm before being taken to Wexham Park Hospital but died, Thames Valley Police said.
A mother of two, who did not want to be named, said it had initially been hoped the girl would have made it back to shore safely.
The 34-year-old woman, who lives outside Reading and was at the park with her sons, said: “At about 3.45pm the lifeguards and the little girl’s friends and family started running along the main walkways that run along the lake and calling her name.
“I later learned they were hoping she had somehow managed to get back to shore and was in shock or passed out.
“They asked us all to call out her name, describing her as shoulder height of an adult, with shoulder length brown hair.
“There was one lady in particular who was either her mother or someone close to her, who was in a bathing suit and visibly shaking and crying as she called out for her.”
The witness said lifeguards and strong swimmers jumped into the water to look for the girl before emergency services arrived, but nothing could be done.
“We went back to the car but it was locked and the emergency vehicles were blocking the exit,” she said.
As the situation unfolded, with each passing minute, you could see the growing panic among the spectators
“My car was right next to another family and the mum in the other vehicle looked at me and we both burst into tears.
“At this point she had been gone for 60-70 minutes and it was clear that the likelihood of her being OK was not good.
“As the situation developed, you could see the increasing panic among the spectators with each passing minute.”
The mother-of-two praised the efforts of lifeguards and bystanders but said the incident had left her “numb”.
“Now I feel quite numb.
“The lifeguards were really fantastic. I reckon there were probably around 30-40 people in the water – a mix of what appeared to be staff and members of the public.”
This has been an extremely traumatic and upsetting event for all involved
Superintendent Michael Greenwood, Thames Valley Police
Local Police Area Commander for Windsor and Maidenhead, Superintendent Michael Greenwood of Thames Valley Police, said: “My thoughts go out to the family and friends of the girl who has died as a result of this tragic incident.
“We are in the early stages of investigating this incident to understand the full circumstances.
“There was a quick response from all emergency services and after an extensive search of the lake the girl, who was 11, was located at around 5.10pm and taken to hospital but sadly died.
– This has been an extremely traumatic and upsetting event for everyone involved.
“I am aware that several members of the public entered the lake shortly after the girl got into difficulty but were unable to find her.
“I would like to commend them for their courage and bravery.
“My sincere condolences go out to the girl’s family and friends and I ask that their privacy be respected at this incredibly traumatic and distressing time for them.”
A witness told Sky News the girl had been seen going underwater and “didn’t come back up” when lifeguards rushed over.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and all those affected by this desperately tragic and upsetting event
Floating free time
She had been with a group of friends celebrating another girl’s birthday when she disappeared, they said.
Emergency services including Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, Surrey Fire and Rescue Service and South Central Ambulance Service were at the scene on Saturday afternoon.
The girl’s death is being treated as unexplained and an investigation has been launched, Thames Valley Police said.
Although formal identification has not yet taken place, the girl’s next of kin have been informed and they are being offered support by officers.
Liquid Leisure said it would be closed on Sunday.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends and all those affected by this desperately tragic and harrowing incident,” it said in a statement.
“As Thames Valley Police are in the early stages of an investigation, it would not be appropriate for us to add any further comment, but we will continue to fully support and assist them throughout the process.”
Their website says: “Liquid Leisure is home to Europe’s largest water park and the first official Ninja Warrior UK Aqua Park, set on one of the most beautiful private freshwater lakes amongst stunning parkland in the heart of Berkshire.”
South Central Ambulance Service and Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue have been contacted for comment.