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UPDATE: East Lancs student dies in 'raft' tragedy
4:00pm Tuesday 24th June 2014 in News
TEARFUL friends of a teenage boy who drowned in a reservoir have described the moment their pal ‘just disappeared’.
James Goodship, 17, died after a group of seven teenagers got into trouble while floating on a ‘raft’.
Shocked onlookers said he went under water just 40 yards from the shore. Yesterday dozens of flowers were laid at the scene of the tragedy as youngsters paid tribute to the former Park High School student.
The death came as a campaign was launched across East Lancashire urging people not to swim in open water during the hot weather.
James’s friends said he and another boy, Keaton Greaves, got into the water to pull the ‘raft’ ashore when it drifted unexpectedly into the middle of Lake Burwain, in Foulridge.
Luke Rigg, 16, who was playing with James on the ‘raft’, said: “We came out because of the hot weather. It was just a bad accident. He just disappeared.
“I’d say to people, ‘don’t go near the water’. He was under for an hour before the emergency services got here.”
Police said they were called to Burwain Sailing Club, in Reedymoor Lane, at 7.30pm on Sunday and an extensive search begun.
James’s body was pulled from the water at around 5.40am yesterday following a search by specialist diving teams.
Keaton was taken to hospital for a check-up but suffered no serious injuries, his friends said.
The group were using a wooden pontoon, a large flat-bottomed boat which they said they found near the sailing club, as a raft.
Liam Menmuir, 16, who also on board the ‘raft’, said: “He was a funny guy. He went to Burnley College. We just came down for a walk.
“He was a good lad. If he said he was going to do something, he did it. Everyone liked him.
“He had two brothers and a sister. He adored his little brothers. He was so caring, always there for everyone.
“He was amazing. I don’t know how we will replace him. He was the joker in the group.”
Liam said there were seven people on the raft at one stage, while two other friends watched from the side of the lake.
Dozens of emergency vehicles, including police dogs, search and rescue officers, ambulances and a police helicopter spent hours searching for James but a lack of light meant the search was called off overnight at around 11.30pm on Sunday.
Streets and paths around the lake, also known as Lower Foulridge Reservoir, were cordoned off by police until yesterday afternoon while crime scene investigators and detectives attended the scene.
Ken Dickinson, who lived on a farm off Smithy Lane, on the edge of the lake, said he could see the drama unfold from his back garden.
The 63-year-old said: “I could see a few young lads messing about and this pontoon just floated away. I was amazed at how far it travelled.
“It got right to the middle and two of them decided they would drag it back to the edge.
“One of them got back on when he realised how hard it was, but the other kept swimming. He got so close to the shore.
“My neighbours rang the police to say they were in trouble. I feel so bad. It’s really got to me.”
Luke Rigg said he and his friends pleaded with James not to get into the water.
He said: “There were two girls who didn’t go on the raft. James made his own choice to go in the water. We said no but he wanted to get off it.
“It was just a bit of fun, then he was shouting for help. There was a man and his wife stood nearby. The man wanted to rescue him but his wife said no.
“We were just screaming for help but no-one came. I think people didn’t believe us. Because of the weather they get it a lot around here.”
Last night, at his father’s home in Duke Street, Colne, James’s relatives said they were too devastated to talk about his death.
James’s old headteacher at Park High School, Dr Paul Parkin, said: “This is a tragic incident and our thoughts and sympathies are with James's family and friends.
“It has been a great shock, not just to those young people directly involved but to everyone in the school. We are working with experts from the county council to provide the support that pupils and staff will need to cope.
“Our former pupil, James, was a confident and popular young man who always made those around him laugh.
“He had a permanent smile on his face and a football in his hand. James was a loyal and trusted friend to many present and former pupils and will be sadly missed by Park High School.
“This tragedy underlines the dangers of swimming in open water. We regularly remind our young people of that message and will continue to do so over the coming weeks.”
Dominic Emery, 18, who played football with James for Colne side Union FC, said: “We knew him through his sister, Lauren. He was always a bubbly character. It’s terrible.”
Several posters and signs at the entrance to Burwain Sailing Club were in place to warn about the dangers of open water swimming.
Commodore for the club, Stephen Graham, said its members were devastated to learn of James’s death.
He said: “Burwain Sailing Club wishes to extend its sincerest condolences to the family and friends of the young boy who drowned on Sunday evening.
“It is a tragic accident in what can be very dangerous waters. In periods of hot weather the waters around the club house can be very inviting; however, we do ask all members of the public to adhere to no swimming signs.
“What can be seen as very inviting waters for fun and enjoyment can in fact hold many hidden dangers.”
Inspector Grant Smith, manager of Lancashire police’s force major investigation team, said there was no suggestion that alcohol or drugs were involved in the accident.