Dylan Cecil: Family’s Tribute To Missing Boy
The devastated family of a four-year-boy who went missing in the sea while on holiday have described him as a “bubbly, lovely” child.
Dylan Cecil’s parents frantically tried to rescue him after he slipped off a jetty into the water in Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset, but were unable to reach him.
After almost 24 hours of searching, the hunt for Dylan was formally called off at 4.30pm.
The youngster had wanted to get a closer look at the sea and went onto the jetty with his parents, Rachel McCollum and Darren Cecil, and his two younger sisters, aged one and three, at about 6pm on Sunday.
The family, from Kettering, Northamptonshire, were in the area visiting Ms McCollum’s parents.
Stood next to a growing pile of floral tributes, Dylan’s grandparents thanked everyone involved in the rescue effort.
Jackie McCollum said: “Rachel, our daughter, and Darren came up Friday with the kids, they were going back today and we were going to have the kids until Friday.
“We always had them for a week and would spoil them and Dylan always called us seaside nanny and granddad.
“He loved coming up to see us, he loved the seaside. He was a bubbly, bubbly, lovely kid. He was our only grandson.
“We’ve got five granddaughters, but he was our only grandson.”
David McCollum said: “We couldn’t have wished for a grandson any better.”
He added: “I just want to give thanks to everybody who has helped in the search mission and tried to get Dylan back for us. I can’t say thank you enough really.
“We’re all just devastated.”
Four coastguard rescue teams, four lifeboats, the coastguard sector manager, police and the RAF helicopter were all involved in the search and rescue operation.
Dylan’s family spent the day at the scene, anxiously waiting for news.
Announcing the search had been officially called off, coastguard sector manager Vince Irwin said: “We’ve had an extensive search throughout last night, the early hours of this morning and again this afternoon and have covered every possible area that we can think of.
“We have covered over two tides now and generally it would have shown over those periods.
“As you would expect it’s not good news for the family, like it’s not good news for us, they were very upset.”
Following Dylan’s parents’ desperate efforts to save their son, the couple had to be pulled from the water by passers-by and treated for water ingestion.
The water off the jetty is impossible to see through because of the mud flats and the strong spring tide currents would have made it very difficult to swim back to shore, the coastguard said.
Severn Sector Coastguard manager Tristam Newey said: “Certainly, at the time, the water on either side of the jetty was quite deep and, combined with the vast current flow, once you’ve fallen into the water it is very difficult to swim back to shore.”
On Monday morning, the coastguard confirmed the search for Dylan had become a body recovery operation.
Councillor Joe Leach, from the Sedgemoor District Council, said: “There’s been a very sad reaction – the community here is completely stunned.
“You can feel it walking through the high street, it really has been a truly sad day for Burnham-on-Sea and our thoughts are with the family.”
He added that the incident served as a reminder of the dangerous conditions in the area.
“Burnham-on-Sea has always been known for its treacherous waters,” he said.
“It’s very difficult to wade into the sea so we’ve always been quite clear with our signage as a council, all across the beach, but accidents do happen.”