Body found in search for two-year-old who fell into River Soar in February

Xielo Maruziva fell into the River Soar at Aylestone Meadows on 18 February

Andy Gregory
Thursday 06 June 2024 18:16 BST
Leicester police search for two-year-old who fell into River Soar

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Louise Thomas

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A body has been found in the search for a two-year-old boy who fell into the River Soar in south Leicester, police have said.

A major search operation was launched after Xielo Maruziva fell into the river while walking with family members in Aylestone Meadows on 18 February.

His father entered the water to try to rescue him, sparking a vast rescue operation including over 200 officers and five specialist teams.

But despite their efforts, the toddlerdescribed as “cheeky, funny, friendly, smart, caring and independent” by his distraught family – was not found, and the BBC reported that the operation was scaled back several weeks later

Leicestershire Police said a body has now been recovered on Thursday morning, following work being carried out in the meadows. The coroner has been informed and a formal identification will now take place, according to the force.

Assistant Chief Constable Michaela Kerr said: “This is devastating news and our thoughts are with Xielo’s family. We are so sorry to bring them this news which we were all dreading and our full support is being provided to them at this most difficult time.

“Formal identification will now take place and we ask that the family’s privacy is respected at this time.

“Full support is also being provided to the workers who were in the area of Aylestone Meadows this morning and I want to thank them for their support and co-operation in the most horrendous and unimaginable circumstances.”

A major search was launched for Xielo Maruziva in February
A major search was launched for Xielo Maruziva in February (Joe Giddens/PA Wire)

Ms Kerr thanked everyone involved in the search, as well as the community and wider members of the public.

Xielo’s father, who was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure after entering the river to try and save his son, previously described Xielo as “a bundle of joy to us”, adding: “He is a charming and creative little boy, and has just started at nursery. He loves cuddles, playing with his toys and going to the park.”

Their family had been left completely devastated, he said, adding: “It is hard to describe the pain and suffering we are going through.

“We would like to thank the search teams at the scene. We would also like to thank members of the public for all of your support. It is your prayers which are keeping us strong.”

Heavy rains across the popular nature reserve are thought to have created dangerous conditions at the time Xielo went missing, with “hammering rain” hampering the search in the swollen River Soar, for which the meadows operate as a natural flood plain, which help to prevent Leicester itself from becoming flooded.

But locals warned The Independent in February that flooding in the area had been getting worse in recent years, causing the meadows – which have dozens of unrestricted access points – to become “a swamp in the middle of Leicester”.

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