Missing boy’s school bag ‘found by woman jumped in Thames after hearing screams’

News

A hero passer-by jumped into the River Thames in a desperate bid to save a schoolboy who fell into the water from Tower Bridge, a witness has said.

The boy was heard screaming for help as the woman shouted “why isn’t anybody helping him”, grabbed a life-float and jumped in, it is reported.

The woman was only able to reach the boy’s school jacket and school bag, and it is understood that police pulled her out of the cold water as the first crews arrived on scene just after 8am on Tuesday.

The boy, who is thought to have turned 13 earlier this month, is still missing three days on.

The Year 8 student, who attends Ark Globe Academy in Elephant and Castle, south London, got off a bus near the iconic bridge on his way to school and fell into the river, said the headteacher.

The child was wearing his full uniform as he and a friend took the bus together, but he got off before his usual stop, which is close to the school.

A witness told the Sun the boy screamed for help and a woman jumped into the river to try to save him.

The witness, who works on a building site on the South Bank, said: “We all heard him screaming for help, and then a woman who was just walking past with her boyfriend grabbed a float and jumped into the river.

“She said ‘why isn’t anybody helping him’ before jumping in herself.

“The woman jumped in seconds after but all she could bring back was his school jacket and his bag.”

Principal Matt Jones told parents the Year 8 student got off the bus near Tower Bridge before his usual stop close to the school in Elephant and Castle.

Mr Jones said the boy “fell into the River Thames” from the iconic bridge and police were treating it as a “missing persons incident”.

He described it as “distressing news” for the school community, adding that his “hopes and prayers” were with the missing child’s family.

The boy is named in the school’s letter, which was sent to parents on Wednesday, but the Mirror is withholding his name.

In addition to river police, firefighters, the RNLI and a police helicopter were involved in the search, which was called off at about 10.30am.

City of London Police is leading the investigation into the incident.

In his letter, seen by the Mirror, Mr Jones wrote: “It is with worry that I share news about (the boy’s name), a Year 8 student at Ark Globe Academy.

“On the morning of Tuesday 20 April, (he) did not make his way into school despite travelling on a bus with a friend in full school uniform.

“He got off the bus near Tower Bridge before his usual bus stop nearest to Ark Globe Academy and fell into the River Thames.

“At this moment in time, police are treating this case as a ‘missing persons’ incident.

“This is obviously distressing news for (the boy’s) family, friends and the wider Ark Globe community.

“Our hopes and prayers are with the family at this very difficult time.”

Mr Jones added: “I want to reassure and remind you that everyone working in our academy knows the important role that they play in keeping children safe,

“Ark Globe staff are well trained to spot concerning signals from students and they know exactly how to escalate issues if external, professional support is needed.”

The principal acknowledged that “this last year has been a very difficult time for many of our students and their families”, and urged parents to contact the school or NSPCC if their children need help.

In a statement, Mr Jones told the Mirror on Friday morning: “We can confirm that a student at Ark Globe Academy did not arrive to school on the morning Tuesday 20 April as expected.

“At this moment in time, there is a live police investigation in relation to the young person’s disappearance.

“The police are treating this case as a ‘missing persons’ incident.

“This is obviously distressing news for the young person’s family, friends, and the wider Ark Globe Community.

“As a school community, we are dealing with this sensitively so as not to compromise the integrity of the police investigation and we wish to respect the privacy of the family while the investigation is on-going.

“Our hopes and prayers are with the family at this very difficult time.”

A police spokesperson said: “City of London Police is leading an investigation into a missing person, working alongside our colleagues in the Metropolitan Police Service. “

“We believe this is linked to an incident where a child fell into the Thames from Tower Bridge.

“Despite an intensive search by City of London Police, the police helicopter and marine units, this person has not yet been found.

“We ask anyone who witnessed anything on Tuesday 20 April at 8.09am, to call us on 020 7601 2999, quoting reference 21000215310.”

A London Fire Brigade spokesman said crews were alerted just after 8.10am and they “carried out an extensive search” until they were stood down at 10.30am.