Page last updated at 12:48 GMT, Wednesday, 17 February 2010

River Avon rescue police faced 'awful' conditions

Gabrielle Grady
Gabrielle Grady was underwater for almost two hours

Two police officers who pulled a six-year-old boy to safety from the River Avon in Worcestershire faced "atrocious" conditions, police said.

The officers rescued Ryan Grady from the river after a car with his father and sister inside went into the water.

They were unable to reach Gabrielle Grady, who later died in hospital, and they are "deeply traumatised" by this, West Mercia Police said.

Christopher Grady, 41, has been charged with two counts of attempted murder.

The incident took place during the morning of Thursday, 11 February, near Evesham.

Freezing water

The two officers used ropes to try to reach the man and boy who had got out of the sunken car, police said.

Ryan was out of reach, so one of the officer swam out to him. The other waded in to help him get back to the bank.

Assistant Chief Constable Simon Chesterman said the river conditions were "atrocious" and the submerged car was about 12m (39ft) from the bank in 3.6m (12ft) of freezing water.

Visibility was zero, he added.

"Sadly, because of the conditions they were unable to reach Ryan's sister Gabrielle and they are deeply traumatised by this," he said.

A diving team from neighbouring Avon and Somerset Police were brought in to reach Gabrielle.

ACC Chesterman said few forces had their own diving teams.

"Because of the geography of West Mercia, even if we had our own team there is no guarantee it would have reached the scene any quicker than the Avon and Somerset team who were fully kitted-up and deployed in Gloucestershire."

Gabrielle was trapped underwater for almost two hours on Thursday and died in hospital on Sunday.

Ryan was discharged from hospital on Sunday.

Mr Grady appeared before magistrates on Saturday and is next due to appear at Worcester Crown Court on Thursday.

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