Bodies found after reservoir search

THE bodies of two young men reported missing after their boat capsized in a popular reservoir have been found by police divers, it emerged last night.Police and coastguards launched a major search shortly after 5am yesterday after the two men, who are thought to be in their late teens or early 20s, were reported missing at Alton Water, near Ipswich.

By Danielle Nuttall

THE bodies of two teenagers reported missing after their boat capsized in a popular reservoir have been found by police divers, it emerged last night.

Police and coastguards launched a major search shortly after 5am yesterday after the two young men, who are thought to be in their late teens or early 20s, were reported missing at Alton Water, near Ipswich.

The search continued into yesterday afternoon but just an hour after a specialist diving team from Thames Valley Police arrived at 4pm to join the underwater search, confirmation was radioed through to police on shore that two bodies had been found.

It emerged last night that the young men had arrived with friends at the reservoir in the early hours of the morning for a beach barbecue, close to the Birchwood picnic area.

Three of the young men decided to take out a small Taz dinghy owned by the Alton Water sailing club, which is only supposed to hold a maximum of two people at less than 150kg.

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But shortly before 5am the boat capsized about 50 metres from the shore.

One of the men onboard - an 18-year-old from Ipswich - swam to the shore and raised the alarm. He was treated for exposure at Ipswich Hospital.

The other two men, who are also believed to be from Suffolk, were reported missing and a major search was launched, involving the coastguard helicopter, police, and coastguards.

Police believe alcohol might have played a role in the accident. There is also a lot of weed just under the surface of the water, which could have made it difficult to swim.

Speaking at the reservoir, Inspector Tris Pepper, of Suffolk police, said: “We have just received news we have recovered two bodies from the water.

“These bodies will be recovered to the mortuary and the identification process will take place.

“Unfortunately, it is very tragic and the message has to be if you go near water you have to be extremely careful.

“The scenario is, as I understand it, that four youngish lads came in to have a beach barbecue near Birchwood Farm.

“They had the barbecue on the beach and a couple of drinks it is fair to say.

“They went out on the boat. Whether they bought it with them or found it we do not know. They went across the inlet and the boat capsized.

“One had decided to remain on shore. One managed to get ashore. We got a call from the ambulance service at 5.15am. One of the boys raised the alarm.”

Insp Pepper said family liaison officers had been appointed to help the relatives of the victims' come to terms with their loss.

A tearful young man turned up at the site yesterday afternoon desperate for information, as he had been led to believe the two victims were his friends.

“It's like a shock to the system. Nobody can quite believe it. And until we find out for definite, everyone is on tenterhooks,” he said.

“I came down here after work. I only found out at 10am.”

The blue Taz dinghy used by the young men remained on the reservoir shoreline yesterday afternoon, in front of the Alton Water Sports Centre, providing a sombre reminder of the tragedy at the Suffolk beauty spot.

Police chiefs had congregated at the centre, just before 4pm, to provide a briefing on the search, however before they were able to begin, a message was radioed through from divers that two bodies had been found.

The reservoir is popular with dinghy racers and windsurfers, however there is no authorised sailing during the hours of darkness.

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