River rescue boy sitting up in bed

A six-year-old boy who was admitted to hospital with a girl aged five after they plunged into a river in a car has been "sitting up in bed and talking", police said today.

Ryan and Gabrielle Grady were rescued from the River Avon in Evesham, Worcestershire, yesterday and airlifted to Birmingham Children's Hospital.

Both children were critically ill when first admitted to the hospital and Gabrielle remains in a critical condition, but police said they were "delighted" with Ryan's improved condition.

Speaking outside Worcester Police Station, Detective Superintendent Steve Cullen said: "I am delighted to report that the boy rescued from the river is now stable and today has been sitting up in bed and talking.

"The girl, however, remains critical."

The driver of the car, which "nose-dived" into the water at around 9.20am, was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and remains in police custody today.

A spokesman for West Mercia Police declined to comment on the relationship between the driver and the children.

Detective Superintendent Cullen, who praised members of all three emergency services involved in the river rescue, added: "West Mercia Police wishes to emphasise that it is doing all it can to support the family, friends and colleagues - adults and children - of the victims.

"As to the investigation itself, this remains an inquiry into two attempted murders with a man being in custody - on suspicion of those offences - since shortly after the incident itself."

He said the police investigation was focused on "a considerable number of people and a substantial number of locations", adding: "Addresses in both Evesham and Worcester form part of the inquiry.

"Suffice to say that we are thoroughly investigating everything that may have had a bearing on this tragic incident."

Eyewitnesses described how the children's screams could be heard when the car entered the water from a field at Boat Lane in Evesham.

West Midlands Ambulance Service said the driver and Ryan were already out of the submerged car when paramedics arrived, but Gabrielle was trapped for almost two hours before she was pulled free by police divers.

The vehicle, a silver Vauxhall Vectra estate, was winched from the water this morning and taken for forensic investigation.

At the children's school, classmates were being offered support by specially trained staff.

Graham Walker, the headteacher of Swan Lane First School in Evesham, said: "The school is deeply shocked and saddened by the recent events involving two of our pupils.

"Following advice and guidance given to school staff by the County Psychological Service, school will reopen as normal after the half-term break and normal school routine will continue.

"Further support will be available if required and pupils will be given the opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings in class."