FRIENDS of missing Durham University student Luke Pearce have been left shocked after a body was pulled out of the River Wear near to where he was last seen.
Durham Police say the body is that of “a young man” and they have informed Luke’s family. However, a formal identification has not yet taken place.
The grim discovery was made shortly before 8.45am yesterday – a week after 19-year-old Luke vanished after a night out with friends in Durham City.
Members of Durham Amateur Rowing Club rang police to report they had seen a body in the River Wear near Baths Bridge, on the side of the river closest to the A690.
Shocked friends of Luke took to social media to post tributes. @JoeReece_ tweeted: “Feel quite sick, just doesn’t seem real, rest in peace Luke Pearce, top mate and top guy.”
@reganmapletoft said: “RIP Luke Pearce. Seen you play rugby a few times and saw you at Chris’s funeral. Commonly known as the gentle giant.” And @CharlieDunckley tweeted “All my thoughts are with your family who I have no doubt are proud of everything you ever did. RIP Luke Pearce.” @Zubair_Malek tweeted “R.I.P Luke Pearce. Enjoyed every moment with the guy,” and @jcoops95 added: “Always our biggest lad on the rugby pitch. RIP Luke Pearce, thoughts are with you and the family today.” ☀️
Since May 11, police had been co-ordinating a major search effort to try to find the first-year engineering student from Hounslow, Surrey who was studying at St Cuthbert’s Society at Durham University.
On Friday, officers made what was planned to be the final search on foot of the riverbanks, and a crew from County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service used sonar equipment to search underwater.
On Saturday evening, officers were joined by Luke’s fellow members of the university rugby club as they handed out flyers in the city centre, in an effort to jog people’s memories in case they had seen him at any point since the early hours of the previous Sunday.
A post-mortem examination was expected to be held late yesterday to establish a formal cause of death.
Police say at this stage there do not appear to be any suspicious circumstances.