Page last updated at 19:33 GMT, Monday, 11 January 2010

Tribute to man who fell through frozen River Tees

John Butterfield
Attempts were made to revive Mr Butterfield

The family of a man who died after trying to rescue his dogs from a frozen river have paid tribute to a "much loved uncle and brother".

John Butterfield was trying to reach the two dogs which had fallen through ice on the Tees at Stockton on Sunday.

The 51-year-old, of the town's Portrack estate, was dragged under after the ice gave way. He died later in hospital.

One rescuer said he tried to reach Mr Butterfield with logs but he would not let go of his pets.

The two animals are still missing and are also presumed to have died.

Mr Butterworth's brother and niece urged people to stay off ice.

In a statement, Gerry Butterfield and Christina Whitfield, said: "Our family are devastated about what has happened.

"We have lost a much-loved uncle and brother and two loved family pets. We would urge and warn people to stay off the ice to stop this tragedy happening again."

Steve Canham tried to rescue Mr Butterfield from the frozen river.

Mr Butterfield's dogs strayed on to the ice close to the town's Infinity Bridge, police said.

The coastguard, the Cleveland Police fire boat and a police helicopter were involved in a rescue operation.

Attempts were made to revive him at the scene but he was confirmed dead at Middlesbrough's James Cook Hospital.

Passer-by Steve Canham said he and another man tried to reach Mr Butterworth with a log.

He said: "He had hold of the log with one hand and had the dogs in the other.

"We shouted for him to let go of the dogs and grab it with both hands, but he just wouldn't."

The police boat was used because the incident happened above the river barrage.

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