Three boys aged 11, 10, and eight years old died after the incident at Babbs Mill Lake on Sunday afternoon, while a six-year-old boy remains in a critical condition.
Tommy Barnet, 10, told Sky News: “They were all playing on the ice, one got their legs stuck in the ice and then … his friends went to go and save him, but they all fell in.”
“When it was summer, we used to go into the woods and play hide and seek next to the lake. But I wasn’t there yesterday.”
The four children were all said to be suffering cardiac arrest when they were rescued from the lake. They were taken to hospital but police said three of them “could not be revived”.
Members of the public jumped into the lake in an attempt to rescue the boys, according to The Telegraph, while a police officer punched through the ice to get to the boys trapped underneath.
The officer was later taken to hospital after his efforts left him suffering from mild hypothermia but he has since been discharged.
Charlotte McIlmurray, an aunt of one of the boys who died thanked the “amazing” community for rallying behind the grieving families, ahead of a vigil held on Monday evening for the “little kings who lost their lives”.
“This is so amazing of all the community in this nightmare that two families can’t wake from the pain is unimaginable,” she wrote in a post on Facebook.
Around 100 residents gathered on Fordbridge Road, where members of the public had laid flowers to pay their respects.
West Midlands Police said on Monday that searches of the lake would continue as they try to establish exactly what happened and if anyone else fell into the water.
Richard Stanton, the area commander of West Midlands Fire Service, said the incident served as a “stark reminder” of the dangers of open water.
Speaking at a press conference on Monday, he said: ““Frozen lakes, ponds, canals and reservoirs can look picturesque but they can be lethal and there are no greater warnings of this than yesterday’s tragic events.
“We would ask parents and carers to remind their children of the dangers of ice and why they must keep off it. Please help us to avoid this from happening again.”