Boy, 10, sinks up to his nose in Verulamium Lake mud
PUBLISHED: 07:14 26 April 2018 | UPDATED: 07:14 26 April 2018
A 10-year-old boy sunk up to his nose in mud which was "like quicksand" after falling into Verulamium Lake.
Oscar - we have been asked not to publish his surname - was playing in Verulamium Park with his friends after school on Friday.
The St Columba’s College Prep School pupil was standing at the edge of the lake by the public toilets at the entrance to the park when he stepped backwards and became sucked into the mud.
Oscar, who lives in Chiswell Green, gave a personal account of the incident to the Herts Ad: “It was really surprising and shocking. We were playing and running around and me and one of my friends were standing where there’s a little ledge.
“I was standing with my back to the lake chatting to him and I must have taken a step backwards and fell in. My friend said there was a big splash and I got some water on him which was quite funny.
“For a split second I thought I was going to touch the mud and it was going to be very shallow but I started sinking.
“I was feeling really nervous and not sure what to do. It was mainly just above my lips but because of the way it bobbed up it did come up my nose. I couldn’t touch the bottom so it was quite scary for me as I’m quite tall.
“I had my hands on the edge trying to get myself out but it was dragging me down and I couldn’t reach.
Oscar’s friend ran to fetch his mum, who was chatting to other parents nearby, while Oscar shouted for help from passersby.
“I started screaming and saying ‘Help me!’” Oscar said. “I couldn’t look up - I could just see people’s feet.
“An old man tried to help me out by my shoulders but he couldn’t do it, and then a runner who had been running around the lake grabbed me by the other shoulder and they both pulled me out.
“I felt really in shock that someone had saved me. It happened so quickly and by this stage I was covered in mud and poop and just general gunk.
“I did swallow a couple of mouthfuls. It was disgusting and my saliva was coming up brown.”
The runner who helped Oscar out of the lake took him over to the toilets, where his friend and his mum had now arrived, and made sure he was all right before leaving.
Oscar said: “The runner was really nice. He ran away pretty much straight away so we couldn’t really thank him. I would like to be able to thank him, wherever he is.”
One of the mums ran to fetch Oscar’s PE kit for him to change into, but as it would have been ruined he had to take off his muddy clothes and go home wrapped in a picnic blanket.
He said: “I was trying to get all the mud off myself. My white shirt had turned brown. They wrapped me in a picnic rug in my pants and my clothes got absolutely wrecked.
“I looked like Mr Stink and my mum’s car smells like Mr Stink now. I was very dirty and very smelly.”
Oscar’s friends and their parents threw water over him to get the mud off before he went home to have a shower.
His friend’s dad, who is a doctor, warned him about the dangers of swallowing the mud from the lake. Although he feels fine, Oscar is now being watched for signs of Weil’s Disease, which is caused by a bacteria that can be contracted after coming into contact with rodent urine.
He said: “If I was a younger child, maybe two years old, and nobody saw me fall into the lake I could have drowned.
“I want to make sure that no one else has that happen to them who’s younger. It was quite dangerous and I only started to realise that afterwards.
“I was so shocked and petrified really. I was really relieved that I managed to get out and that I was saved.
“I just really want to thank the men who helped.”
Joe Tavernier, Head of Community Services at St Albans City and District Council, said: “We understand that Oscar must have experienced quite a shock when he accidentally fell into the lake. We are glad to hear that he has made a swift recovery and is now back at school.
“Around half a million people enjoy using Verulamium Park each year without any mishaps, including families, dog walkers, runners and visitors to St Albans.
“The artificial lakes are one of the most popular and much-loved features of the park. We are currently working with partners on a long-term project aimed at revitalising the River Ver, that includes enhancements to the park designed to improve the water quality of its man-made lakes.”