Parents devastated by death of ‘popular’ teenager in River Tees

The family of a teenage boy who got into difficulty in the River Tees have said they are “devastated” by the death of their “fit and healthy” son.

Anas El-Rafai’s body was found after a major search operation on Monday evening after the 15-year-old got into the water at Broken Scar in Darlington.

In a statement issued through Durham Police, his parents said: “Anas was a fit and healthy young man. He was very popular at school.

“We are devastated and miss him so much.”

Stretch of river
Stretch of river

A major operation involving police, fire crews, divers and the Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue Team was launched after Anas went missing at around 5pm on Monday.

His body was found at around midnight.

Anas, from Darlington, was formally identified on Tuesday afternoon.

Durham Police said his death is not being treated as suspicious and a file will be prepared for the coroner.

At Broken Scar Weir, which has a picnic site, the river is fast-flowing and there are warning signs telling people not to swim due to the strong currents.

A few minutes’ walk downstream, the river is more tranquil as the Tees bends round a farmer’s field and there is a pebble beach which is thought to be a popular place for young people to gather.