Parents blast Havering Council over 3ft mud “deathtrap”

THE furious parents of three boys trapped waist-high in a near-freezing mud bank in Hornchurch have blasted Havering Council for leaving the messy “deathtrap”.

Officials drained a small lake on the nature reserve, near Goodwood Avenue, fearing children might come to harm, leaving behind three-feet of sticky silt.

And now the mums and dads want to know why no warning signs were erected.

Ted Clarke, 11, and brothers Kurt and James Guiver, 11 and 12, got into trouble during a fishing trip last Monday morning.

A woman had to be rescued from the same spot just a few weeks earlier, fire crews said.

Ted’s dad Barry Clarke, from Plumpton Avenue, said: “I am so angry with the council. They know kids use the area and dredged the lake - but they left this deathtrap in its place. Why didn’t they put up warning signs or some tape?”

Mum Karen added: “If it had have been a smaller child the story could be very different.”

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Hacton Primary pupil Ted became trapped as he searched for fishing bait and the brothers then got wedged as they went to his rescue.

Ted spoke of his terror that they would never be found.

“It was like being stuck in freezing jelly,” he said. “We were so cold and we were all crying; I thought we might die there and the firemen said if we were there half and hour more we might not have made it.”

The mud was so thick the boys were unable to reach their mobile phones in their pockets to ring for help.

But the terrified trio were eventually spotted by two women walkers around an hour after their ordeal started.

Twenty-five fire officers were deployed to the scene and used rescue rafts to drag the boys to freedom – leaving some of their clothing clogged in the viscous mud.

Kurt and James’ mum Janice Guiver, also of Plumpton Avenue, said: “I was horrified that there were no warnings – I just hope the council do something about it before something worse happens.”

Kurt, who goes to Sanders Drapers Secondary School, said: “I felt scared and shocked. I was so happy to be safe and warm again.”

Ted added: “I want to say thank you to the firemen - they were brilliant and my heroes.”

The council has since put up signs and fencing.

Cllr Steven Kelly, deputy leader of the Council, said: “We regularly have to dredge lakes and waterways and we try to ensure that this work is undertaken safely. Clearly this incident was distressing for the boys and their parents and we’re taking it very seriously. We are investigating exactly what happened, to see what more we could do to prevent this sort of thing happening in the future.”

The parents also want to thank the women who called the emergency services and have urged them to come forward.

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