'I'm so grateful' says heartbroken mum of Liam Hall as she seeks sea tragedy heroes
The family of a teenager who lost his life after getting into difficulties in the sea have led tributes to him - as they search for the heroes who tried to save him.
Trainee mechanic Liam Hall died in hospital after he was pulled from the water off Roker beach when a trip in a dinghy with friends turned to tragedy.
The 17-year-old from Southwick was with girlfriend Courtney Richardson, 18, and friends Jack Hanratty, 17, and Natalie Foster, 21, on Tuesday afternoon when they sparked a search and rescue operation.
Best friend Jack and girlfriend of around six months Courtney tried to get him back into the boat, which has been near the Old Pier at Sunderland Yacht Club, but the current dragged him down.
He was found by the RNLI, who had worked alongside police and HM Coastguard on the search.
He was then airlifted to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, but he could not be saved.
Now Liam’s family have spoken about the loss of their out-going and popular boy, who had been looking forward to returning to Sunderland College to continue his course.
Liam's family are also asking for help to fund his funeral. Click here to find out the details.
Mum Sarah, 38, hopes people who went to Liam’s aid will get in touch so she can thank them personally for what they did.
She said: “I know two kayakers saw him and tried to reach him and a woman, just a member of the public, swam out but she couldn’t cope with the current and she was a strong swimmer.
“We don’t know who they are, but I’d like to speak to them.
“I’m so grateful and it shows there are people out there who care and want to help and did their best.
“I can’t thank the police enough and the hospital too. I also want to thank the RNLI for everything they did.
“All those who have been in touch have helped.
“Liam wouldn’t want people to be morbid, he wasn’t a morbid person.
“Everyone should be pleased they knew him and think about that, than be sad that he’s gone.
“That’s what he was like.”
'He always made us laugh'
Grandmother Linda Hall, 61, said: “He was such a big part of our lives.
“He came every Sunday for his lunch and he was big practical joker.
“He always made us laugh and we’ll really miss that.”
Sarah was told of the search by police at the family home on Tuesday afternoon.
She said: “The police came to the door and asked to come inside and said there had been an incident down at Roker and that my son Liam had fallen in the water and they were trying to find him.
“We just had to sit here and wait and then the police took me up to the RVI.
“They tried to do all they could.”
Liam attended schools including Richard Avenue Primary and Sandhill View before beginning his course and in his spare time he enjoyed being around family and playing on his Xbox.
In addition to his mum, he leaves brothers Ryan, 20, and Lewis, 18, and sister Olivia, eight.
He was also a much-loved grandson of Neil Hall, 66, Linda’s husband, and was a nephew of Jacqueline Butler, 42, and Gary Hall, 26.
He also leaves uncle James Butler, 40, Jacqueline’s husband, and cousins Nicole, 24, and Jon, 19.