Friday, 18 Sep 2020

Tributes paid to 'popular' boy, 15, who died 'trying to save brother' in river

A teenager who died after getting into difficulty in the River Tees has been named as Anas El-Rafai.

‘Popular’ Anas, 15, is believed to have gone into the water to save his younger brother, who was able to get out onto the bank.

The schoolboy, from Darlington in County Durham, was last seen shortly after 5pm yesterday.

He was reported missing after entering the water at Broken Scar in Darlington.

A large-scale search was triggered with police, fire fighters and mountain rescue teams all taking part.

Sadly, the teenager’s body was found nearby shortly before midnight.

Formal identification was carried out this afternoon.

In a statement, his parents said: ‘Anas was a fit and healthy young man.

‘He was very popular at school. We are devastated and miss him so much.’

His death is not being treated as suspicious and a file will now be prepared for the coroner.

Anas had come to the UK with his family including five brothers to escape the Syrian civil war, reports The Sun.

His best friend Mohammad El Mgharbel, 17, told the paper: ‘There were seven of us who went down to the river to swim but three of them Anas, his younger brother Jamal who is 13, and another friend were further out into the water than the rest of us.

‘It seemed as though they were hit by a current, like a wave, and it pushed them further out.

‘Anas swam over to the other two younger boys and he pushed them to the side and both of them managed to get out.’

He continued: ‘What he did was very brave, he saved the other two boys and in doing that his own life was lost.’

At Broken Scar Weir, which has a picnic site, the river is fast-flowing and there are warning signs telling people not to swim due to the strong currents.

A few minutes’ walk downstream, the river is more tranquil as the Tees bends round a farmer’s field and there is a pebble beach which is thought to be a popular place for young people to gather.

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