Dylan Cecil: Body found of four-year-old swept out to sea


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The Independent Online

The body of a four-year-old boy who slipped from a jetty into the sea has been found less than half a mile away from where he went missing.

Dylan Cecil was on holiday with his family when he disappeared under the muddy water at Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset, at 6pm on Sunday.

His family, from Kettering, Northamptonshire, said while they are still traumatised by what has happened they are grateful to have his body back so they can bury him properly.

The body, found near a yacht club in the town at 12.30pm, has yet to be formally identified, but police said they "strongly believe" it to be that of Dylan.

The body was discovered by a member of the public at the high tide mark on the mudflats next to a row of sailing boats at the mouth of the River Brue.

Dylan's grandparents, David and Jackie McCollum, visited the place where the body was found and quietly placed a rose on the ground.

They remained at the scene for a few minutes before walking away without comment.

Earlier they, along with other members of Dylan's family, had been at the jetty next to the beach where a huge pile of flowers, candles and soft toys have been placed.

Dylan's mother, Rachel McCollum, and his father Darren Cecil, have maintained a constant vigil next to the jetty where their son fell into what Ms McCollum described as a "whirlpool".

She said earlier this week she knew immediately that she would not see him again.

The water off Burnham-on-Sea has one of the highest tidal rise and fall ranges in the world and the shoreline is notorious for its dangerous mudflats.

Dylan was visiting his grandparents with his mother, father and two younger sisters, aged one and three.

He had wanted to get a closer look at the sea when he slipped off the side of the jetty and disappeared beneath the water.

His parents desperately tried to rescue him, but were unable to reach their son and had to be pulled from the water by passers-by.

The Coastguard and police launched a large search and rescue operation after a member of the public saw Dylan's parents attempting to rescue him.

The search for Dylan, who was wearing a T-shirt and shorts, was called off at 4.30pm on Monday but volunteers have continued to look for him to bring closure to his family.

Yesterday the UK underwater rescue organisation SARbot used specialist sonar equipment to scour the water for Dylan's body but was unable to find him.

Following the discovery of the body, Dylan's family said in a statement: "We would like to thank everyone for their help and support during this difficult time.

"We would like to express our gratitude for all the messages of sympathy and support from both the local community and wider public across the nation.

"In particular we would like to thank the people involved in the search - the police, RNLI, HM Coastguard and the Burnham-on-Sea Area Rescue Boat (BARB).

"We are still extremely traumatised but very grateful that it appears Dylan has been returned to allow us to bury our son."

Ms McCollum had earlier told the BBC: "He (Dylan) was literally not even a metre away from me and he was jumping and slipped and I watched him fall in.

"I jumped in straight after him - what more could I do? He went. I knew as soon as I jumped in I was not getting him back."

She had implored people not to give up looking for her "gorgeous" and "bubbly" little boy.

Standing next to the Burnham-on-Sea motor boat and sailing club Superintendent Keith McCoubrey, of Avon and Somerset Police, said that, while formal identification has not yet taken place, he strongly believes the body to be that of Dylan.

"I can confirm today, at approximately 12.30pm, we've recovered the body of a small boy on the banks of the estuary," he said.

"Although there has been no formal identification as yet, I do strongly believe that to be the body of Dylan Cecil, the little four-year-old boy who was tragically lost here on Sunday."

President of the yacht club Dave Humphrey, 65, said the body was found only 500 yards from where Dylan went missing. "There's hopefully now some closure for the family," he said.

The local authority, Sedgemoor District Council, said it was carrying out an internal review "to establish all relevant information" but was satisfied all its procedures were followed correctly.