Footballer Tyrone Mings says players feel ‘pain’ after lake deaths

Aston Villa’s Tyrone Mings and club captain John McGinn came to Babbs Mill Lake, in Solihull, to pay their respects.

Richard Vernalls
Wednesday 14 December 2022 16:38 GMT
Aston Villa’s John McGinn and Tyrone Mings during their visit close to the scene of the tragedy in Babbs Mill Park in Kingshurst, Solihull (Richard Vernalls/PA)
Aston Villa’s John McGinn and Tyrone Mings during their visit close to the scene of the tragedy in Babbs Mill Park in Kingshurst, Solihull (Richard Vernalls/PA) (PA Wire)

England international Tyrone Mings has visited the makeshift memorial to three boys who died after being pulled from an ice-covered lake at the weekend, saying “we feel that pain”.

Mings and fellow Aston Villa player and club captain John McGinn arrived on Wednesday to look at the carpet of floral tributes next to Babbs Mill Lake, Solihull, near Birmingham, following the deaths of the boys aged eight, 10, and 11.

A fourth boy, aged six, who was rescued from the water, remains in critical condition in hospital, police have said.

Mings, who plays at centre-back for the Birmingham-based club and has earned 17 caps for England, said: “It was a personal decision to pay our respects.

“I think it’s impacted the whole city.

“We felt it was important to come down on a personal level just to show that support.

“Sometimes, as we’ve seen with other things that have happened across the city, there are things more important than football.

“We felt it was important to come down here, show our respects and show we were thinking about everything that has happened and the parents that are affected by it.

“We feel that pain too.”

Mings and McGinn spent a few moments in silence looking at the hundreds of tributes, cards, bouquets, children’s toys and balloons which have been laid at the foot of a tree next to Babbs Mill Park since tragedy unfolded in the nearby waters on Sunday.

Both players have been at the club’s mid-season training camp in Dubai before returning to the UK ahead of Thursday night’s home friendly against Spanish side Villareal.

The tragedy has united the city’s rival football clubs, Aston Villa and Birmingham City – whose head coach John Eustace on Tuesday laid a wreath at the memorial on behalf of the Blues.

McGinn said: “We were in Dubai when we heard the news and I thought of my nieces and nephews, and the players thought about their kids.

“It was certainly moving for us.

It seemed a small gesture for us to come down and pay our respects

Tyrone Mings

“We saw John Eustace come down yesterday and myself and Tyrone thought it would be good for us to pay our respects.

“I’m sure tomorrow night in the friendly against Villareal, the Villa family will come together and pay our respects to what is a tragic event so close to home.”

McGinn said “Nothing can sum up what the families will be thinking, what the community will be thinking.

“But it just shows what a close-knit community it is.”

Mings added: “It’s a really sad situation for everybody, we wanted to pay our respects.

“It’s touched everybody and made everybody really come together.

“We try and pay our respects as a football club, but this was kind of on a personal level.

“We were also thinking of everybody involved and it seemed a small gesture for us to come down and pay our respects.

“We felt it was important to do so.”

Later on Wednesday, staff from nearby John Henry Newman Catholic College and Kingshurst Primary School both spent a few minutes looking at the flowers and reading messages on cards including heartfelt tributes to the “Babbs Mill Boys” and the “Three Kings of Kingshurst”.

Earlier this week, relatives paid tribute to one of the youngsters, 10-year-old Jack Johnson, who is reported to have been trying to save others who fell into the water, and in a social media post, thanked members of the community for their support.

Several other tributes had cards dedicated to Jack while others paid tribute to another boy by name, saying: “To Thomas, The world will not be same without you” and “Thomas, rest in peace. Love from Earl”.

Among the dozens of teddy bears was one with the message: “RIP beautiful angels.”

More details have emerged about the rescuers, who included members of the public and police officers – including a rookie officer who suffered mild hypothermia after trying to punch through the ice in order to get the boys out as quickly as possible.

Rich Cooke, chairman of West Midlands Police Federation, told The Telegraph the officer was a student officer in his early 20s, who had been on one of his first operational rotations.

Mr Cooke described him as “an absolute hero” who was currently on days off but would be back on shift later this week.

He said all the police who arrived at the scene had “tried to help in whatever way they could”.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in