Durham students help in the search for missing Ian Bell
On Saturday 5th May Durham University students assisted in the search for Ian Bell, an eight-year-old boy who fell into the River Wear during the acute flooding two weeks ago.
Nearly fifty student volunteers spent several hours on Saturday walking along a ten-mile stretch of the River Wear that had not yet been searched by police.
Two groups of students walked from Finchale Abbey Farm upstream to Sunderland Bridge, encountering slippery riverbanks and adverse weather conditions including rain and hail.
Bell’s body was finally located by police on Sunday 6th May.
Durham Police had been looking for Bell since he disappeared into the River Wear on 27th April whilst playing with friends at the side of the river near Willington, Crook.
It is believed that Bell was holding onto a tree branch which snapped, causing him to fall into the river.
Durham Police had been searching for Bell since the accident and had decided to scale back the search due to the time that has lapsed since.
Despite this, hundreds of local volunteers took up the cause and continued to search for Bell.
Durham Police Chief Superintendent Andy Reddick said, “We would once again like to thank the local community for their continued help and support in the search for Ian”.
Graham Milne, Chief Inspector of Durham Police, warned volunteers continuing the search that the conditions in the wake of the flooding were still dangerous and that care had to be taken to avoid further accidents.
Chief Inspector Milne also expressed doubt that Bell would be found alive. but this did not deter volunteers.
A shoe was found by volunteers at Prebends Bridge in Durham City on Thursday but it is unknown if there was any connection to Bell.
The River Wear began to overflow onto riverside paths in the city after Durham was subject to overwhelming rainfall. The river was also running extremely quickly due to the enormous increase in precipitation.
The rainfall has been so intense that St Helen Auckland inhabitants recently had to be evacuated due to water entering homes.