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Desperate effort to save teenager who died in sea tragedy

By David Banner | Wolverhampton | News | Published:

An inquest heard of the desperate efforts to save a 16-year-old holidaymaker and two other youngsters who got into difficulties in the sea off a popular Welsh beach.

Blake Ward

Blake Ward, from Bushbury, Wolverhampton, was flown to Liverpool Children’s Hospital after being pulled from the water at Tywyn in south Gwynedd last July.

But he died days later from the effects of drowning. Another boy and a girl survived.

The Aberdyfi Lifeboat was launched at Tywyn. Picture: RNLI

A conclusion of accidental death was recorded at a Caernarfon inquest held yesterday.

The North West Wales senior coroner Dewi Pritchard Jones paid tribute to those “ordinary people” who carried out CPR on Blake on the beach.

“Unfortunately this case is typical of very similar, if not identical, cases I have to deal with every summer,” the coroner said.

Blake’s grandfather Richard Salter, 71, with whom the teenager lived in Wentworth Road, said those people who tried to help the schoolboy were "heroes".

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Barbara Blackwell, the boy’s aunt, said: “The last seven months have been the most difficult time.

“The loss of such a fun-loving 16-year-old boy has devastated the family.”

Tributes being left outside Hillcrest School where Blake had been a pupil

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But she said: “We want to make it clear that we do not blame anyone for what happened.”

Holidaymaker Michael Payne, who managed to swim to the two survivors, said there were “sizeable waves”.

“I kept talking to them and saying ‘stay calm, swim’,” he recalled.

Floral tributes left in memory of Blake

Another beachgoer, Thomas Beech, said he had heard cries and screams and Blake had been taken by a “rip” tide.

Beach warden John Watson said there were warning signs about the dangers.

The coroner asked: “Do people generally heed these signs?”

Mr Watson replied: “No. We can simply advise.”

Rebecca Ray in front of Blake Ward, aged 16, and his girlfriend Stephanie Evans, with Michelle Evans, 14, and Brandon Harrison, 16, directly behind Blake

Speaking after his death, Rebecca Ray, the mother of his girlfriend Stephanie, of Coseley, said: “He was a lovely boy who was the first to help others.”

Blake has been a pupil at Hillcrest School and Community College, in Netherton, and floral tributes were left by friends outside the school gates.

Following the intervention of comedian Jason Manford, an online fundraiser for Blake reached over £12,000, more than double its original target.

The comic, who heads a group of anonymous donors dubbed the Charity Ninjas, shared the story of the student’s death on his Facebook page.

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