Former Hibs player and Aston Villa captain John McGinn visits memorial in Solihull after tragic lake deaths
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John McGinn, who played for Hibernian FC from 2015 to 2018, arrived on Wednesday to look at the carpet of floral tributes next to Babbs Mill Lake, Solihull, near Birmingham, following the deaths of the boys aged eight, 10, and 11. The Aston Villa captain was joined by fellow team-member and England international Tyrone Mings.
A fourth boy, aged six, who was rescued from the water, remains in critical condition in hospital, police have said.
McGinn said: "We were in Dubai when we heard the news and I thought of my nieces and nephews, and the players thought about their kids. It was certainly moving for us.
"We saw John Eustace come down yesterday and myself and Tyrone thought it would be good for us to pay our respects. I'm sure tomorrow night in the friendly against Villareal, the Villa family will come together and pay our respects to what is a tragic event so close to home."
The Scottish footballer added: "Nothing can sum up what the families will be thinking, what the community will be thinking. But it just shows what a close-knit community it is."
McGinn and Mings spent a few moments in silence looking at the hundreds of tributes, cards, bouquets, children's toys and balloons which have been laid at the foot of a tree next to Babbs Mill Park since tragedy unfolded in the nearby waters on Sunday. Both players have been at the club's mid-season training camp in Dubai before returning to the UK ahead of Thursday night's home friendly against Spanish side Villareal. The tragedy has united the city's rival football clubs, Aston Villa and Birmingham City - whose head coach John Eustace on Tuesday laid a wreath at the memorial on behalf of the Blues.
Earlier this week, relatives paid tribute to one of the youngsters, 10-year-old Jack Johnson, who is reported to have been trying to save others who fell into the water, and in a social media post, thanked members of the community for their support. Several other tributes had cards dedicated to Jack while others paid tribute to another boy by name, saying: "To Thomas, The world will not be same without you" and "Thomas, rest in peace. Love from Earl". Among the dozens of teddy bears was one with the message: "RIP beautiful angels."
More details have emerged about the rescuers, who included members of the public and police officers - including a rookie officer who suffered mild hypothermia after trying to punch through the ice in order to get the boys out as quickly as possible.
Rich Cooke, chairman of West Midlands Police Federation, told The Telegraph the officer was a student officer in his early 20s, who had been on one of his first operational rotations. Mr Cooke described him as "an absolute hero" who was currently on days off but would be back on shift later this week. He said all the police who arrived at the scene had "tried to help in whatever way they could".