Tributes have been paid to a teenage boy who died after drowning in an abandoned quarry.
Tragic Russell O’Neill, 17, became the first victim of the summer heatwave after he disappeared in 100ft (30m) deep waters while swimming with pals on Saturday (6/7).
The youngster had been cooling off in the disused Gullet Quarry, in picturesque Malvern Hills, Worcs., as temperatures soared to 30C (86F).
Rescue teams were called to the scene when Russell got into difficulties and disappeared below the waters at 1pm.
Following a frantic search by emergency services he was finally pulled from the quarry FOUR hours later.
However, despite the best efforts of paramedics he was declared dead at the scene at 4.50pm.
Yesterday (Mon) tributes poured in to the promising footballer – who played for Worcester City FC.
Family and friends left bouquets of flowers for the popular teenager and scattered petals into the quarry waters on Sunday afternoon (7/7).
A heartbreaking note left at the site by his devastated mum and dad, read: “Russell, We will miss you so much.
“Life won’t be the same without you. You were our hero, our friend and a special son.
“No one could have wished for a better son than you were.
“We will miss your smile. You will always be in our thoughts and hearts. God bless. Hugs and kisses from mum and dad.”
Among the 14 tribute notes and cards left for the youngster, was another from his sister Sophie, which read: “Russell, where do I begin, I love you so much I can’t believe your gone. I hope your at peace now.
“I know you will be watching over us making sure we’re safe. I love you forever little Bro. If I could swap places with I would without a doubt.
“You have been cheated out of life at such a young age.
“Theres so much I want to say to you but as long as you no I love you forever and you’ll be in my heart until my last breath. love your Big sister Sophie xxx.”
A handwritten card from his niece said: “Uncle Russell, I miss you and love you too. Sleep tight. Love from Chloe xx”
Liverpool fan Russell played football for Worcester College of Technology Academy, which is linked with Blue Square Bet North side Worcester City.
His manager Rhys Goode said the “cheeky player” would be dearly missed by the team.
He said: “He was a genuine jack the lad sort of joker.
“Really nice lad and down to earth, always making people smile or laugh. A very popular lad.
“He was a very skilful player. To sum him up he would always try a few things on the pitch and he was a cheeky player.
“Football was his main hobby and playing pool.
“His death was a shock. It is not the sort of thing you expect to happen.
“I know the young lads go up the quarry to have a good time but it’s a shock to here that sort of thing happening.
“He will be missed.”
Tributes were also paid over social networking sites Facebook and Twitter.
His sister Lisa O’Neill, wrote: “The heavens took an angel yday afternoon, Russell O’Neill our brother an uncle to our girls a super star son, we are so heartbroken that our russ has been taken so tragically. Keep playing football amoungst (sic) the stars . Always always in our hearts and minds xxxxx love u so much little bro xxxxxxxxx”
Pal Lewis James Mills put: “I can’t believe it. Russel O’Neil, one of the nicest, most genuine people I’ve ever met, taken way too soon.
“Can’t even begin to imagine what his family are going through, my thoughts are with you all.. the world has been truely (sic) robbed.. saw you two days ago, begging you to sign for out football team.. and now you’re gone.
“Life is too cruel and its always the good ones that get taken.. the community is shook, but we will do what we do and pull together for you and your family.. RIP mate.. gone way too soon.. sleep tight brother (sic).”
While Adam Lunn added: “To the greatest football player i ever had chance to play with everbody (sic) will miss u russel o’neil your in a a better place now mate :).”
Following the tragedy West Mercia Police issued warnings about the dangers of swimming in unsupervised waters.
Detective Inspector Richard Rees said: “This appears to have been a tragic accident and our thoughts are with the boy’s family and friends at this sad time.
“While it is too early to give a cause of death, we would like to take this opportunity to remind people about the dangers of open water.
“With the warm weather upon us and the school holidays approaching, we would advise people to think twice about going into local rivers, lakes and canals in order to cool off.”
Safety campaigners warned youngsters not to swim in rivers and flooded quarries this summer – following the death of tragic teenager Russell.
David Walker, leisure safety manager at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: “We understand the temptation to want to go swimming at inland water sites, especially during hot weather.
“Things to consider when inland water swimming are that even on a hot day, the water might be a lot colder or deeper than you were expecting, and there may be underwater debris that you cannot see from the bank.
“Consider how you are going to get out of the water before you get in, and be honest about your swimming ability.
“RoSPA’s advice is to go swimming at properly-supervised sites, such as beaches, lidos or swimming pools, although we appreciate that not everyone can get to these locations.”
Sean Devlin, principal at Blessed Edward Oldcorne Catholic College,where Russell attended, also paid tribute to the teenager.
Mr Devlin said: “Russell was a brilliant student.
“He was with us for five years. He left at the end of last year.
“All of the time he was at the school he was a pleasure to have in lessons. Teachers spoke highly of him.
“It’s a disaster what’s happened.
“It was a little bit subdued this morning.
“Everyone prayed for Russell and prayed for the family.”