A disabled man and his carer both drowned in a shocking double tragedy after the man with special needs fell into icy waters before his carer jumped in after to try and save him.
Aaron Ritchie, 49, fell off a canal pier during a walk on Tuesday in Wigan, Gtr Manchester.
His carer, a 60-year-old man who has not been named by police, heroically jumped in after to try save him.
Tragically, both men were pulled from the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Crank Wood, in the Abram area of the town.
It is believed they were out on a walk when Aaron fell in. His carers’ next of kin have been informed of his death, Greater Manchester Police have said.
In a statement released by the police, Aaron’s heartbroken family said: ‘It’s come as a complete shock to us as a family surrounding the tragic accident of what happened on Tuesday afternoon.
‘Aaron was a loveable character who made a big impression on everyone who knew him.
‘Aaron had special needs and he loved the outdoor life and as long as he had his puzzles, laces and spinning tops he was happy. Aaron is surely going to be missed by us as a family.
‘We would like to pass on our sincere condolences to his carers family and a special thank you to the emergency services who attended trying to save them.
Police said they were called to the waterway at around 2.15pm on Tuesday after concerns were raised about their welfare, sparking a huge rescue operation involving specialist boat crew.
A spokesman for the force said their deaths are not being treated as suspicious but officers are continuing to establish the circumstances behind their deaths. A scene remains in place at the canal.
They said: ‘At 2.15pm on Tuesday Greater Manchester Police were called to reports of concerns for welfare at Crank Wood canal, Abram, Wigan.
‘Specialist officers in a multi-agency emergency response attended the location, and two men aged 49 and 60 were taken to hospital for treatment. Despite the best efforts of medical staff, both men sadly passed away yesterday afternoon.
‘Detectives believe that two men had entered the water and come into difficulty and at this time there are believed to be no suspicious circumstances, however, officers are currently working to establish the exact timeline of events leading up to this incident and enquiries remain ongoing.’