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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 February 2008, 13:35 GMT
Boy drowns while playing in pond
The Clegg in Thatto Heath, St Helens
The death is being treated as a fatal accident
A 15-year-old boy drowned in a pond in St Helens while playing with friends.

John Simmons was with four other boys on a makeshift raft on the pond near Senator Road in Thatto Heath at about midnight on Tuesday, police said.

All five of them fell into the freezing water. Four of them managed to make it to safety and raised the alarm.

The body of the teenager, who lived locally, was recovered by the police underwater search unit. The incident is being treated as a fatal accident.

The large pond, known as the Clegg, is on open ground surrounded by a new housing estate.

Flowers are being left at the scene. A teenage girl who said she was John's girlfriend left a dozen roses and a card which read "my baby".

There was a few of them, they were shouting 'He's drowning, he's drowning'

It is reported to be a popular spot with local youngsters both for fishing and as a meeting place.

It is bordered by "no swimming" signs which also warn of the deep water.

Temperatures dipped below freezing on Tuesday night although the water was not frozen over.

A woman who lives close to the scene of the tragedy said: "I was in bed and I had heard the boys splashing about, then there was a knock on the door.

"There was a few of them, they were shouting 'He's drowning, he's drowning'.

"My partner called the police. The helicopter and the divers came out but it was too late for him."

Flowers at the scene
Flowers have been left at the scene by John's friends and family

She said it was very unusual for children to be playing there at night and at this time of year.

"You do get kids down there, obviously, it's a place for them to play.

"But there's not been anybody down there for months," she added.

But Lillian Norcross, who lives opposite the scene, said the isolated spot made it popular with older youths who gather at night to drink alcohol.

She said: "I heard the noise of the lads last night but I'm used to it now.

"I was worried because it was below freezing and it was very late.

"A few minutes later there was an ambulance outside my house. I assumed somebody had tried to jump into the water, you get a lot of horseplay there."

Flowers at the scene of John Simmons' death

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